Sydney @ 5 million

According to newly released data from the Australian Bureau of Statistics, 5,005,400 people lived in Greater Sydney at 30 June 2016, an increase of 1.7 per cent (82,800 people) from the previous year. While population growth has slowed marginally from the previous year (there was an increase of 84,900 in the previous year), 2015-16 was still the 5th highest population increase in absolute terms since 1901.

According to Terry Rawnsley an economist at SGS, the current population growth is being driven by strong economic growth. “Sydney’s 4.5 per cent GDP growth rate in 2015-16 was the highest since 1999-2000 and the third highest on record”.

“The growing economy needs more labour to fill jobs and that is drawing people to Sydney. Also, as often happens during periods of high economic growth, there is a baby boom underway” said Mr Rawnsley.

The last time Sydney broke through the million people mark was 16 years ago in 2000. The time taken to add an extra million people to Sydney is constantly reducing. “At current growth rates Sydney will reach 6 million in 2028” said Mr Rawnsley. There are a whole host of challenges facing Sydney to accommodate all of this additional growth.

Figure 1: Greater Sydney population 1901-2016

However, Sydney wasn’t the fastest growing capital city in 2015-16. Melbourne added an extra 107,800 (2.4 per cent growth) people. At this rate Melbourne will overtake Sydney as Australia’s largest city in 15 years. Melbourne’s more affordable housing does place it at a great advantage compared to Sydney.

The rest of New South Wales added 22,800 (0.8 per cent increase) people to reach 2,721,600. This brought the total population of New South Wales to 7,726,900.

Table 1: Sydney's million people milestones