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NSW Department of Planning, Industry and Environment
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This update covers the latest population information for NSW based on Australian Bureau of Statistics [ABS] data. We also share information on gender equality in education and the latest regional population estimates.

Latest regional population estimates and the importance of locally-based planning

by Kim Johnstone

Preliminary population estimates for local government areas are released by ABS yearly. The most recent estimates are for the year ending 30 June 2015. They show different rates of growth across NSW. Table 1 shows that all regions experienced population growth, except for the Far West. Metropolitan Sydney and Illawarra-Shoalhaven were the only two regions to have population growth rates over one per cent between 30 June 2014 and 30 June 2015.


Table 1. Latest population statistics NSW regions, 30 June 2015




30 June 2015

Change over

previous year


growth rate (%)

Central Coast 333,119 2,316 0.7%
Central West and Orana 286,387 1,701
Far West 47,897 -298 -0.6%
Hunter 675,199 6,776 1.0%
Illawarra-Shoalhaven 400,241 4,602 1.2%
Metropolitan Sydney 4,587,804 80,990 1.8%
Murray-Murrumbidgee 272,570 1,821 0.7%
New England-North West 186,870 660 0.4%
North Coast 557,996 4,268 0.8%
South East and Tablelands 269,601 1,430 0.5%
NSW 7,617,684 104,266 1.4%

Longer-term annual population growth rates are shown in Figure 1. Growth rates were faster in the Illawarra-Shoalhaven and North Coast regions for 2014-15 compared to previous years. Metropolitan Sydney’s growth rate of 1.8 per cent remained the same. In all other regions of NSW, the numbers show slower growth for 2014-15 compared to earlier years. Year-to-year changes are volatile for the Far West region, in part because of its relatively small population.




The latest population numbers reflect differences across the State in terms of where people live and the different impact of age structures. It’s one of the many things that make each region unique and highlights the importance of locally-based planning.


Data source: Australian Bureau of Statistics, 2016, Regional Population Growth Australia 2015, ABS Cat. No. 3218.0, ABS, Canberra.

Latest NSW population estimates

The latest preliminary estimate for NSW population has hit more than 7.6 million people as shown in Table 1. NSW gained 102,243 individuals over the year to September 2015. This represents 1.4 per cent growth. This growth rate is slightly higher than the national level and is only second to Victoria’s annual growth of 1.7 per cent.


Net migration is the balance of people who arrive into NSW and those who leave. It remains a strong driver of population growth in the State. In the year to September 2015, 58 per cent of growth in NSW was due to net migration. Since September 2007, over half of NSW’s population growth has been a result of net migration as shown in Figure 1.components_of_population_graph_tile_711x503

The State’s remaining population growth was driven by natural increase, which is the difference between births and deaths. This estimate may be revised upwards when processing delays for registered births since the December quarter 2014 are corrected.


Internal migration for States and Territories measures how many people move from one state or territory into another. Figure 2 compares the net internal migration of NSW with three other States. While NSW tends to gain people from overseas and natural increase (more births than deaths), there is a long-term trend of net loss in internal migration. This sees more people move out of NSW than move in from other parts of Australia.


Since September 2003, there has been a gradual reduction in net internal migration loss. A net loss of 7,451 in the year to September 2015 was the second consecutive year of record lows since 1981/82. This low net loss was a result of both more people moving into the state and fewer people leaving. The record lows in the last two years align closely with the decreasing net gains in WA and QLD and the end of the mining boom in 2013/14. Smaller net losses from internal migration for NSW mean a larger population for the state overall.


Table 1. Latest state and national population estimates, Sep 2015, ABS.






Change over

previous year



rate (%)

 NSW  7,644,232 102,243  1.4%
 Vic  5,966,749  102,311  1.7%
 Qld  4,792,906  55,232  1.2%
 SA  1,701,128  12,396  0.7%
WA  2,598,220
 32,542  1.3%
 Tas 517,183  2,159  0.4%
 NT 244,484  826  0.3%
ACT 391,988
5,491 1.4%
 Australia 23,860,133  313,237 1.3%

Is education the key to gender equality in the workplace?

by Vanessa Leung

Gender equality in completing education is often considered a milestone limited to recent high school and university graduates. There's optimism that more women with university qualifications will progress into senior and leadership roles in the next decade.



gender parity graph

In NSW, more women than men hold bachelor-level degrees among under 57 year olds, including the younger half of the baby boomers. This shows us that academic completion alone does not translate into gender parity at senior and leadership roles.


The graph shows us the big difference among 25 to 29 year olds, where 20,866 more women than men hold bachelor’s degrees in NSW. This age group is expected to be in our labour force for the next 30 years. It will be a challenge to ensure individuals, employers, government, and society make the most of this highly educated group, where women may make up the biggest part of the professional labour force.


The graph also tells us that gender equality at postgraduate-level was achieved among Gen Xs aged under 34.


Why did older women complete bachelor degrees but not postgraduate studies? It’s likely that women had to choose having children over their studies or careers. For younger generations, it may now be more socially acceptable to complete a postgraduate degree part-time with flexibility around childrearing, or to delay childbearing until completion of a higher degree.


The future:

With so many highly educated women, where are they in the professional workplace? The lack of women in senior and leadership roles means our labour force is missing a whole range of people with a wealth of knowledge. For more than a decade at least, the highly educated talent pool has been predominantly female. Practices and policies for men and women must change for the better so that educated women aren't disadvantaged during childrearing years, which is a critical time for career development.


Gender gaps in the workforce
  • More women than men hold bachelor-level degrees among under 57 year olds
  • 20,866 more women than men hold bachelor degrees in NSW among 2a5 to 29 year olds