Australia’s population growth has registered a slowdown in 2013, according to population statistics recently released by the Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS), with just over 396,000 new residents added to the population over the 2013 calendar year.

Population growth is an important indicator for the housing market, according to RP Data research director Tim Lawless who explains that more residents imply more people who require accommodation.

NSW attracted the largest number of new residents at 110,923 during this period followed by Victoria with 107,916, Queensland with 79,706, and Western Australia with 71,301 new residents.

While the latest ABS data indicates that the rate of population growth has been slipping since the middle of last year, slowing to an annual growth rate of 1.7 per cent, population growth remains well above average despite the slowdown.

For instance, the level of natural increase (births minus deaths) was 8.6 per cent higher than the 10-year average and 19.1 per cent higher than their 30-year average over the 2013 calendar year. Net overseas migration was higher than average at 16.7 per cent above the 10-year average and 78.6 per cent above the 30-year average.

Net overseas migration has been the largest contributor to population growth with New South Wales accounting for the largest number of overseas migrants at 71,446 net migrants over the calendar year, followed by Victoria at 62,337 overseas migrants. Net overseas migrants into Western Australia were the third highest of any state at 45,401; however, there has been a substantial decline over the year in this category with overseas migrant numbers down 19.8 per cent compared to 2012, as is evident in the other mining state, Queensland, where overseas migration is down 19.1 per cent over the calendar year.

Victoria attracted the largest number of net interstate migrants for the second consecutive quarter; historically it has been Queensland and more recently Western Australia, where interstate migration may have been impacted by the slowdown in the resources sector.

In terms of the impact of a low population growth on the housing market, Mr Lawless expects housing demand to ease further, both from a sales and a rental perspective, which will be more evident in the mining states of Western Australia and Queensland.