Monday, 24 July 2017

The Northern Territory's Population in 2016 - Five key points you need to know

Dr. Andrew Taylor

With the release of new 2016 Census data, and accompanying population estimates, here are five key points you need to know about the Northern Territory:

The NT's age and gender distriubtions for 2011 (coloured bars) and 2016

1. A mixed bag for population growth Territory population growth during 2011 to 2016 averaged 1.6% per annum, down on the five years prior (2%) and slightly lower than for Australia (1.8% per annum). The chart on the right shows growth (and decline) in the Territory by age group and gender. There was strong growth in early career age groups but a decline in children, teenagers and those in their early 20s (consistent with recent interstate migration figures). However, Territory level growth hides diverse outcomes for towns and regions within the Territory. Very high growth (26%) was recorded for Litchfield and Palmerston (22%) during 2011 to 2016 (around 5% per annum). Most of the growth in Litchfield was in males and a result of the move of Berrimah prison to Holtze as well as some workers living at the accommodation village near Howard Springs (called Manigurr-ma Village after the Larrakia name for the Stringybark tree, and hosting up to 3,500 personnel) declaring themselves as NT residents (living in the NT for six months or more). At the other extreme, some regions recorded negative growth including Barkly (-3%) and the East Arnhem region at -7%, - due mostly to the loss of workers after the curtailment of the Alumina refinery in Nhulunbuy. But keep in mind these growth figures will be adjusted for Census net undercount and other factors, with adjusted regional growth figures to come in September this year.

2. An urbanising Territory - With continued higher growth in the Greater Darwin area and lower or negative growth elsewhere, around 60% of Territorians lived in Greater Darwin in 2016, a level of urbanisation not seen before. Low population growth outside of Darwin has implications for communities and economies 'out bush'.

3. An older and more multicultural Territory - Like the rest of Australia, we are becoming older and more multicultural. During 2011 to 2016, the proportion of Territorians aged 65 years or more increased from 5.7% to 7.2% of the population. However, the Territory still has the youngest median age (32 years) in Australia. Meanwhile, by 2016, 20% of Territorians were born overseas, up from 16% in 2011. We had strong increases in our Filipino and Indian communities, probably a result of temporary skilled migration, which has grown in prominence for the Territory, and indeed for Australia as a whole.

4. Affordability improves: as long as you're buying - If we compare the changes from 2011 to 2016 in three measures - median household income, median mortgage repayments and median rents - affordability (on average) improved for those purchasing their dwelling. This is because household incomes rose 21% from 2011 to 2016 while median mortgage repayments rose only 6%. But, with half of Territory dwellings rented (much higher than for Australia as a whole at 31%, and reflecting our more transient population and employment patterns), rental affordability was reduced relative to incomes with median rents rising by 38% in the Territory from 2011 to 2016 (compared to a 21% growth in household incomes).

5. Still more male and still more single - The Territory's population still has more men than women, and in 2016 was 48% female compared to 51% for Australia. However, December 2016 estimates, which are based on 2016 Census data, show that the degree of male domination in the population is trending down (see our Territory Population Update on this blog site).


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