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City of NewcastlePopulation 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 City of Newcastle in May 2018. 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 City of Newcastle, 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 major regional cities

City of Newcastle is one of 30 local government areas in regional Australia that can be classified as a major regional city.

Typical characteristics of major regional cities include:

  • large resident population to support higher order services and a diverse economic base
  • provider of services, facilities and employment for communities in surrounding areas
  • critical infrastructure including, rail, ports and airports
  • contain a Central Business District (CBD) as the main commercial and business centre
  • contain suburbs, often in different life cycle stages
  • attract new residents from surrounding areas, as well as from metropolitan capital cities
  • affordable housing compared to metropolitan capital cities
  • quality tertiary education opportunities to retain young people
  • quality education and health infrastructure offer to retain and attract families
  • recognised sporting and cultural facilities

Potential impacts on major regional cities

Based on our understanding of the characteristics of major regional cities, we consider the following to be likely impacts on population growth. These insights are not necessarily specific to the City of Newcastle, but reflect challenges and opportunities for this type of place.

Overseas migration

    Medium longer term impact from current net overseas migration shock as a high share of overseas born residents move to major regional cities only after having already lived in metropolitan capital cities.

    Short-term impacts from net overseas migration shock greater in major regional cities in proximity to larger capital cities.

    International student intake will be severely impacted in the short-to-medium term. This will be felt mostly in major regional cities with large universities that generally attract a large number of international students.

Internal migration

    Interstate migration will be affected considerably in the short-term, due to border closures and economic uncertainty. Cities 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, major regional cities attract large numbers of new residents from other areas within the State, particularly from metropolitan capital cities. Levels of net in-migration could increase under COVID-19, particularly for major regional cities in proximity to metropolitan capital cities.

Natural increase

    Births are likely to be fewer in the short-term as fertility typically declines in times of economic uncertainty. Major regional cities with current high levels of fertility, coupled with the loss of family-making age groups through less overseas migration, will be impacted more severely than other areas.

    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 in major regional cities if outbreaks were seen in areas with relatively large numbers of vulnerable elderly residents.

Economic resilience

    Access to a range of jobs, including higher order service jobs means that major regional cities will generally retain a greater share of residents as well as attracting new residents, compared to other areas.

    A diverse economic base which is supported by critical infrastructure means that major regional cities with a high functioning CBD, rail, ports and airports, are likely to retain and attract new residents, compared to other areas.

    Strong long-standing regional linkages. Major regional cities which provide services, facilities and employment will attract new residents primarily from surrounding areas.

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 effect 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.

Local amenity

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

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

    Quality health, education, transport, sporting and cultural infrastructure. Major regional cities with these attributes will have high levels of amenity, attractive to new residents.

City of Newcastle


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.

DescriptionCity of NewcastleGreater SydneyPotential impact
Overseas migration
Share of residents born overseas13.9%36.7%Some negative impact
Overseas migration share of total net migration (2011 to 2016)70.1%139.9%Some negative impact
Interstate migration
Interstate migration share of total net migration (2011 to 2016)-11.6%-17.3%Some positive impact
Intrastate migration
Intrastate migration share of total net migration (2011 to 2016)41.5%-22.6%Some positive impact
International student impacts
Residents attending university8.1%6.1%Negative impact
Residents attending TAFE2.3%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
DescriptionCity of NewcastleGreater SydneyPotential impact
Natural increase
Natural increase share of forecast population growth (2020 to 2024)35.3%62.5%Some negative impact
Share of residents aged 70+ years (2020)10.7%10.4%Some 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
DescriptionCity of NewcastleGreater SydneyPotential impact
Economic output
Gross regional product change-3.8%-14.7%Some negative impact
Local job impacts
Local job change-3.1%-9.2%Some negative impact
Local job change (including JobKeeper recipients)-4.7%-15.2%Some negative impact
Employed resident impacts
Employed resident change-6.0%-9.3%Some negative impact
Employed resident change (including JobKeeper recipients)-6.2%-15.5%Some negative impact
Share of residents who work in LGA65.7%--

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
DescriptionCity of NewcastleGreater SydneyPotential impact
Socioeconomic vulnerability
SEIFA Rank (Disadvantage)9971,018Some negative impact
Disengaged youth of 15-24 year olds9.1%7.6%Some negative impact
Share of low income households20.1%15.1%Some negative impact
Housing vulnerability
Share of households under housing stress12.9%11.8%Some negative impact
Mortgage vulnerability
Share of households owned with mortgage30.3%31.5%Some exposure
Share of households under mortgage stress7.3%10.3%Small negative impact
Rental vulnerability
Share of households privately rented27.9%27.6% Some exposure
Share of households under rental stress31.0%26.4%Some negative impact
Residential mobility
Share population of 18-39 year olds33.2%33.0%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
DescriptionCity of NewcastleGreater SydneyPotential impact
Housing Affordability
Housing Median Value$649,000$1,054,000Positive impact
Unit Median Value$499,000$753,000Positive impact

Data updates

This page shows the latest version of how COVID-19 may impact population growth for City of Newcastle. 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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