Immigration drought has downsized our economy

By Maja Garaca Djurdjevic
 — 1 minute read

Projections about the size of the Australian economy are set to be redrafted with the country now very unlikely to meet population growth targets tailored prior to the pandemic.

On a recent exclusive podcast hosted by Momentum Media, Treasurer Josh Frydenberg confirmed that while Australia’s closed border policy saved lives, it also led to a stall in population growth to a degree not witnessed in a century.

This prolonged drought of immigration will, he confirmed, yield further consequences on the economy.


“Net overseas migration has gone negative,” Mr Frydenberg said.

“And so, while we'll pick up our immigration levels into the future, we may not necessarily pick up the numbers of people who otherwise would have come if the borders had remained open over the course of the pandemic, which means that our projections about the size of the Australian economy will have to change, and the size of the population will have to change.

“And the size of our population will not be as big as what we'd forecast previously pre-pandemic at a certain period of time,” the Treasurer confirmed.

He stressed the importance of skilled migration to Australia’s economic recovery.

“There were skilled shortages that we're seeing across the economy and in construction, some of the mining sectors, engineering, I speak to a number of professional services firms in respect to IT, and some of those workers as well.

“So, we have seen labour force shortages across various sectors of the economy and therefore being able to bring in skilled migrants is going to be important for our economic growth into the future,” the Treasurer said.

Just this week, the former treasurer of NSW and current Premier, Dominic Perrottet, drew attention to the importance of opening international borders to plug the “general labour” shortage and ensure a healthy economic recovery.

“If we lose this opportunity, those skilled migrants will go to other countries,” he said on Tuesday.

And the stats back the government's findings, with data from the Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS) showing that job vacancies sat at 46 per cent above pre-pandemic levels in August.

"There were 334,000 job vacancies in August 2021, which was 36,000 less than in May 2021. However, this was still 106,000 more than at the start of the pandemic,” Bjorn Jarvis, head of Labour Statistics at the ABS, said at the end of September.

However, despite these sombre findings, the Treasurer is “pretty optimistic about where the economy is going”.

“As restrictions ease, we will see people back in work, and we'll see businesses reopen and monetary policy will stay accommodative,” he told Momentum Media.

“I'm optimistic and upbeat about the future prospects of the Australian economy.”





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