COVID-19 pandemic to punch a Canberra-sized hole in the population

As migration recovers, fertility rates are expected to continue falling over the long term, contributing to Australia’s aging population, which Chalmers says poses a challenge to the economy. The declining birthrate means the median age of Australians would rise from 38.2 in 2021 to 42.8 in 2060.

“It’s good to see the fertility rate going up,” he said Monday. “But we’re still aging as a population and as a society, and so we need to make sure we have the workforce to support our society as we transform.”

The report predicted that Australia’s population would reach 39.2 million by 2060 and the natural population would contribute a quarter to the growth, with the remainder being driven by overseas migration.

The aging population increases the risk of labor shortages and Chalmers said migrating might help, but it’s “not the only answer”.

“As the economy recovers from the worst of the pandemic, crippling skills and labor shortages are holding our businesses and our economy back,” he said.

The Albanian government has increased the number of qualified migrants from 160,000 to 195,000 and is investing more in skills, while Home Secretary Clare O’Neil announced a review of the migration system in September last year, with the final report due in February.

Chalmers has also committed the Treasury Department to finalize an employment white paper by September.

“Australia’s migration attitudes must be sustainable, serve Australia’s national interests and not be a substitute for the training and capacity building of our native workforce,” he said on Monday. COVID-19 pandemic to punch a Canberra-sized hole in the population

Callan Tansill

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