Most Aussies believe immigration boost will benefit the economy

The Federal Govt is planning its 2023-24 Migration Program, and has sought submissions from the public on the ideal size and composition of its intake from July. Research reveals that 84% of Aussies support this year’s boost in immigration numbers, largely due to the economic benefits. Since the program, job vacancies in Australia have dropped from 480,000 in May – more than double the 277,000 vacancies in Feb. 2020 – to 444,200 in Nov. 2022.

To better understand the population’s views on the Federal Govt’s immigration boost, money transfer comparison platform Send Money Australia commissioned a survey of 1002 Aussies asking respondents what they believe are the perks and disadvantages of the program. The government’s permanent Migration Program is increasing its intake to 195,000 placements in the 2023 financial year – an increase from 160,000 in the previous financial year.

Under the arrangement, up to 142,400 skilled via placements are being approved to improve the productive capacity of the economy and fill skills shortages in the labour market. Up to 52,500 Partner visas are being approved to reunite people in Australia with family members.

What perks do Aussies believe the boost will bring?

Respondents were presented with five possible benefits of the boost in immigration numbers and were asked to select which benefits they believe Australia will receive. These include:

  • Filling skilled jobs where there are labour shortages
  • Improving Australia’s culture
  • An injection of new ideas and innovation across different sectors
  • A boost to the economy through increased spending
  • Creating a more open-minded society.

More than four in five (84%) respondents believe the immigration programs brings at least one of these benefits. More than half (53%) believe immigrants filling skilled jobs will help solve Australia’s labour shortage. Nearly half (48%) believe the program will bring an overall boost to the Australian economy through increased spending by immigrants.

More than a third (38%) believe various sectors across our economy will enjoy an injection of new ideas and innovation, and an equal 36% think Australia’s cultural offerings and our society’s open-mindedness will improve. The survey found that younger Australians are more in favour of an increased intake in immigration, with nine in 10 (88%) of under-35s believing there are benefits, compared with 86 per cent of 31-54 year olds and 77% of over-55s.

In addition, the research report also found that older Australians are more likely than younger respondents to view more disadvantages to immigration, with 69% of over-55s concerned about migrants sending money back home, compared with only 33% of 18-34 year olds.

Despite their higher home ownership rate, over-55s respondents are also more likely to view house price and rents increasing as a result of increased immigration, chosen by three-quarters of this group (73% of the respondents), compared with only 54% of 18–34-year-olds who are more likely to be affected by the housing affordability crisis. 

When comparing responses across all Aussie states and territories, respondents in the ACT are the strongest supporters of immigration, with 93% believing it brings at least one benefit, compared with the lowest score of 83% in NSW. But NSW residents felt the strongest on the economical advantages of immigration with over half (51%) choosing this as a benefit.

What drawbacks do Aussies believe the boost will bring?

Despite their positivity, the majority (92%) also believe the program is bringing at least one disadvantage. Respondents could select more than one disadvantage from a list of five:

  • Overcrowding of Australia’s cities
  • More competition for jobs, potentially bringing lower pay
  • The risk of higher unemployment
  • Higher house prices and rents, due to more demand
  • Immigrants sending money back home, rather than spending it in Australia.

Nearly two-thirds (65%) believe the intake will result in increased house prices and rents. In December 2022, house and unit rents grew to a new national record and saw their highest annual increase, while the number of vacant rental properties were at an all-time low. 

More than half (56%) fear overcrowding in our cities, and 53% were concerned that while immigrants will earn money in Australia, they will send some of it overseas rather than spend it here. Nearly half (45%) were concerned about the risk of higher unemployment, and 44% believe more workers will result in more competition for jobs and lower pay for workers.

Across the states and territories, New South Wales respondents had the lowest percentage of respondents to see any benefits to immigration. New South Wales (NSW) residents felt the most insecure about jobs because of the immigration program, with nearly half (49%) believing it could lead to higher unemployment. More ACT residents (64%) than respondents in other states view overcrowding of our cities as a disadvantage to immigration.  

The full results, with age and State breakdowns, can be found here.