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Bathurst Regional CouncilPopulation forecast

Impact of COVID-19 on population growth

COVID-19 is a significant health crisis which has resulted in major social and economic disruption across the world. In Australia, the closure of borders (both external and internal) will have impacts on the size and distribution of future population growth. At a local level, the impacts on population growth and demographics outcomes will be felt differently.

.id developed population forecasts for Bathurst Regional Council in October 2021. These forecasts do not consider potential impacts to assumptions stemming from COVID-19. They do, however, provide a baseline by which to understand where the population may have been without this external shock.

In order to further understand how COVID-19 may impact population growth within Bathurst Regional Council, we have developed a COVID-19 impact assessment. This assessment is based upon our understanding of typologies (i.e. the characteristics, roles and functions of communities). It demonstrates how these influences may play out across a range of variables, at a localised level. These include:

  • Migration - who will move into an area as well as who is leaving the area.
  • Natural increase - impacts on the forecast numbers of births or deaths.
  • Economic resilience - availability of jobs.
  • Resident vulnerability - unmet social and economic needs.
  • Local amenity - factors that make an area a more enjoyable place to live.
The assessment draws on data from across our .id tools:,, and (including the COVID-19 economic forecasts developed and recently updated by NIEIR). We will continue to refine and update this impact assessment as more information becomes available.

Characteristics of rural areas

Bathurst Regional Council is one of 234 local government areas in regional Australia that can be classified as a rural area.

Typical characteristics of rural areas include:

  • regional areas where the majority of the population resides inland from the coast;
  • contain regional cities (population under 50,000) that provide services and employment for communities in surrounding rural areas;
  • contain townships and smaller settlements with very low population densities and growth;
  • strong trends of ageing as younger residents migrate to major regional cities and capital cities;
  • a mix of rural land uses including farming, fishing, forestry, mining and tourism, and some urban uses in regional cities and townships;
  • contain relatively low proportion of jobs in each state, with employment opportunities varying depending on industry;
  • can have areas of socioeconomic disadvantage;
  • can offer unique ambiance and lifestyle, with some areas attractive to ‘tree changers’ and as well as niche tourism opportunities; and
  • provide affordable housing compared to major regional cities and capital cities.

Potential impacts on rural areas

Based on our understanding of the characteristics of rural areas, we consider the following to be likely impacts on population growth. These insights are not necessarily specific to the Bathurst Regional Council, but reflect challenges and opportunities for this type of place.

Overseas migration

    Low short-term impact from the net overseas migration shock as a very low share of overseas migrants move directly to rural areas. However, some rural areas that have industries reliant on migrant workers (including temporary workers) may experience a short-term decline.

    Low longer-term impact from the net overseas migration shock as a relatively low share of rural residents are born overseas compared to other regional areas. Typically, overseas migration as a contribution towards total migration is lower in rural areas compared to major regional and metropolitan cities.

    Negligible impact on future international student residents. While the impact on the number of new international students will be severe nationally, COVID-19 will have a negligible impact in rural areas which do not contain universities or attract international students*

Internal migration

    Interstate migration will be affected considerably in the short-term, due to border closures and economic uncertainty. Areas which typically experience net out-migration to other States will retain more residents, while cities which typically experience net in-migration will not gain as many new residents.

    Intrastate migration Typically, rural areas attract new residents from other areas within the State, particularly from capital cities. Levels of net in-migration could increase under COVID-19, particularly for rural areas in closer proximity, with strong transport linkages and relatively short commuting times to major regional and metropolitan cities.

Natural increase

    Births are likely to be fewer in the short-term as fertility typically declines in times of economic uncertainty. Rural areas tend to have relatively high levels of fertility and forecast births and as a result may be impacted more than other areas. However, due to the economic resilience of rural areas this impact may be mitigated.

    Deaths caused by COVID-19 are currently at very low levels. This is due to low overall case numbers, however, the number of deaths could increase if case numbers increased in areas with vulnerable, elderly residents. Generally, rural areas have relatively higher shares of residents aged over 70 years and therefore a higher mortality exposure compared to other areas.

Economic resilience

    Majority of jobs in (resilient) primary and secondary industries means rural areas will experience less overall job loss, compared to other areas with more jobs in tertiary industries (retail trade, education, accommodation and food services). However, exposure may increase if a town is home to a sole employer that is experiencing a downturn in revenue due to COVID-19.

    Relatively small decline in employed residents means rural areas may retain (even attract in some LGAs) more residents. Generally rural areas have large numbers of residents working in their respective LGAs in agriculture and manufacturing (primary and secondary industries).

Resident vulnerability

    COVID-19 will increase the likelihood of housing relocation among households who are already vulnerable due to factors such as, unemployment or insecure work, low income, and rental or mortgage stress.

    Moving house could affect household formation in several ways including: younger residents moving back home with their parents, elderly residents moving in with their children (as dependants), formation of group households and other larger households to share housing costs. This could also mean that rural areas may experience some inflow of previous residents (young and vulnerable adults) who may move back to the family home for financial support, care and/or the increasing ability to work from home.

Local amenity

    Availability of lifestyle opportunities including access to open space and natural environment. A large number and diversity of lifestyle opportunities can draw residents to rural areas.

    Access to affordable quality accommodation means that rural areas will attract new residents from regional and capital cities, which have comparatively more expensive housing.

    A range of land uses including farming, forestry, cropping and to a lesser extent tourism, means that rural areas are also attractive to new residents seeking new (and sometimes speculative) ventures including, taking over the operations of family farms, farm stays, retreats, boutique farms, vineyards etc.

*Some areas such as Bathurst which contain university campuses with international students may experience a small negative impact.

Bathurst Regional Council


Migration is one of the most important components of population change. Net migration explains who will move into an area as well as who is leaving the area. It is therefore an excellent way of understanding housing markets and how the role and function of an area may be affected by COVID-19. Changes to migration may disproportionately affect industries such as the education sector due to their reliance on overseas migration.

DescriptionBathurst Regional CouncilRegional NSWPotential impact
Overseas migration
Share of residents born overseas8.6%11Some negative impact
Overseas migration share of total net migration (2011 to 2016)38.9%55.0%Some negative impact
Interstate migration
Interstate migration share of total net migration (2011 to 2016)-46.1%-18.0%Positive impact
Intrastate migration
Intrastate migration share of total net migration (2011 to 2016)107.2%63.0%Positive impact
International student impacts
Residents attending university5.0%3.1%Some negative impact
Residents attending TAFE2.2%1.9%Some negative impact

Natural increase

The size of the population increases through births and decline through deaths. The number of forecast births is an indication of the exposure the community has to changes to the fertility rate. The share of residents aged 70+ years provides an indication of the exposure the community has to changes to the mortality rate due to COVID-19.

Natural increase
DescriptionBathurst Regional CouncilRegional NSWPotential impact
Natural increase
Natural increase share of forecast population growth (2020 to 2024)73.0%38.3%Negative impact
Share of residents aged 70+ years (2020)11.4%15.4%Low exposure

Economic vulnerability

Economic vulnerability is an indicator of the degree to which COVID-19 may negatively impact the employment prospects of local residents. Communities with high gross regional product decline and/or high levels of local jobs declining are more likely to experience lower levels of population growth. Additionally, economies with scale and diversification may be more likely to retain, and/or attract residents relative to other areas.

Economic vulnerability
DescriptionBathurst Regional CouncilRegional NSWPotential impact
Economic output
Gross regional product change-1.5%-2.2%Some negative impact
Local job impacts
Local job change-1.5%-2.7%Some negative impact
Local job change (including JobKeeper recipients)-1.9%-3.4%Some negative impact
Employed resident impacts
Employed resident change2.6%-2.2%Some positive impact
Employed resident change (including JobKeeper recipients)0.8%-3.0%Some positive impact
Share of residents who work in LGA83.6%--

Note: Impacts refer to September Quarter 2020 compared to September Quarter 2019

Source: National Institute of Economic and Industry Research (NIEIR) Version 2.0 (September 2020). ©2020 Compiled and presented in by .id (informed decisions).

Resident vulnerability

This indicator identifies communities with a high proportion of residents who have unmet social and economic needs (housing, income, education etc.) Due to COVID-19, these communities, particularly those with a younger, more mobile population, are expected to experience a greater change in how or where residents live (i.e. younger residents moving back home with their parents, formation of group households to share costs or leaving the area in search of employment opportunities elsewhere).

Resident vulnerability
DescriptionBathurst Regional CouncilRegional NSWPotential impact
Socioeconomic vulnerability
SEIFA Rank (Disadvantage)986971Negligible impact
Disengaged youth of 15-24 year olds9.0%11.8%Some negative impact
Share of low income households20.1%22.0%Some negative impact
Housing vulnerability
Share of households under housing stress12.3%11.4%Some negative impact
Mortgage vulnerability
Share of households owned with mortgage31.8%28.6%Some exposure
Share of households under mortgage stress8.8%9.8%Some negative impact
Rental vulnerability
Share of households privately rented24.3%21.6%Some exposure
Share of households under rental stress32.6%32.5%Some negative impact
Residential mobility
Share population of 18-39 year olds28.8%24.3%Some exposure

Local amenity

Local amenity considers the amenity a region provides its residents, with a particular focus on access to affordable housing and access to lifestyle opportunities. It is an indicator of the livability of an area, in the context of COVID-19.

Local amenity
DescriptionBathurst Regional CouncilRegional NSWPotential impact
Housing Affordability
Housing Median Value$438,000$492,000Some positive impact
Unit Median Value$307,000$393,000Positive impact

Data updates

This page shows the latest version of how COVID-19 may impact population growth for Bathurst Regional Council. As new information becomes available (e.g. data revisions, additional data sets of relevance) updates will be applied.

Recent updates include:

  • 7 October 2020: Update to include National Institute of Economic and Industry Research (NIEIR) Version 2.1 (September 2020). NIEIR has estimated the potential impacts of coronavirus on economic activity, employment and sectors at the LGA level. Model outputs above are based on information available before September 24.
  • 25 September 2020: Update to include National Institute of Economic and Industry Research (NIEIR) Version 2.0 (September 2020).

Given the dynamic nature of COVID-19, revisions will be made to our population forecasts once sufficient data is available.


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