The Census Data is Out:

The 10 business opportunities it reveals

Article From Cara Waters Smart Company

The 2011 census data released on Thursday 21 June 2012 by the Australian Bureau of Statistics shows some key trends that your business can capitalise on.

Australians are moving west, we’re paying more rent, we’re not moving out of home and we’re all getting older.

The figures relating to these changes in Australia’s population all reveal opportunities for your business.

1. Go west

Go west in Sydney, west in Melbourne and west in Australia, as that is where the growth is.

Western Australia's population grew at the fastest rate in the nation, swelling 14% in five years while Tasmania's grew 4%.

Western Australia's East Pilbara was the fastest growing locality, expanding 83% between 2006 and 2011. Almost four in 10 residents of the East Pilbara were born overseas, compared with the Australia-wide average of three in 10.

Perth has become a higher-income city than Sydney, boasting a typical household income of $75,868, a touch above Sydney's $75,244 and Melbourne's $69,316.

Darwin and Canberra are by far the highest earning capitals, typically taking in $93,912 and $99,840 per household. Hobart remains in last place with a typical household income of $55,380.

Even in the eastern capital cities the trend was westward, with Melbourne’s population increasing to 3,999,982, an increase of 9.7% from 2006, with the strongest growth in Wyndham, in Melbourne's west, up 43.4% .

But, Phil Ruthven, chairman of IBISWorld, told SmartCompany the westward trend had been happening for a while and also warned that Melbourne was unlikely to become Australia’s biggest city any time soon.

“I am cautious about Melbourne becoming the biggest city. It is fast growing because the Victorian economy is doing better than the NSW as for too long the NSW government was in denial about opening up land and making it easier to build houses,” says Ruthven.

“I suspect Sydney will stay the biggest for most of this century, but nevertheless Melbourne is a very liveable city.”

2. Invest in a rental property

There are good returns to be found in rental property at the moment with median rental payments up by $95 per week between 2006 and 2011, according to the census.

This represents a 50% increase over the five-year period with the median national weekly rent is now $285 per week, compared with $190 in 2006.

The 2011 census also found that the proportion of households with rent payments greater than 30% of household income, the common definition of rental stress, rose slightly from 9.3% to 10.4%

3. Empty nesters are out: more people living at home is in

For the first time since European settlement, there has been an increase in the number of people per home.

One hundred years ago there were almost five people in the average home while today there are just 2.63 people per home. However, this represents a small increase from 2.61 people per occupied private dwelling in 2006.

“Presumably higher rents and mortgage repayments have resulted in more children staying home longer with their parents,” Craig James, economist at CommSec, said.

“At the same time, more seniors are probably also living with their children.”

4.  Apartment living is on the rise

The proportion of people living in detached houses has fallen by one percentage point between 2006 and 2011, with a shift towards more people living in units and townhouses, according to census data.

In total, there are now 9,117,033 million private dwellings in Australia, up from 8,426,559 private dwellings counted in the 2006 census.

Of these private dwellings, 75.6% are separate houses, compared with 76.6% in the 2006 census, with proportional increases in the number of people living in a flat, unit or apartment and those living in a semi-detached, terraced house or townhouse.

5. Consumers have less cash in their pockets

Businesses have to work hard to get consumers to hand over their hard-earned cash as increased rental and mortgage costs mean they have less buying power than before.

Inflation may be low, which makes it look as if disposable income is holding up, but the really big expenses are soaring. The typical household rent has jumped 49%, the typical household mortgage payment 38 %, increasing by $500 between 2006 and 2011.

The standard variable mortgage rate stood at 7.8% in both the 2006 and 2011 census so increased payments appear to be a result of extra indebtedness rather than higher rates.

For 9.9% of households, their mortgage repayment was more than 30% of their income – the common definition of mortgage stress – up from 8.4% in the 2006 census.

However, Ruthven warns that the household income figures available from the census are limited in the application, as the highest income bracket is $100,000 plus, while the average household income in Australia is $128,000.

“I think we learnt practically nothing about household income in that census,” says Ruthven.

“It still astonishes me that they set the income bar so low and even below the average.

“It’s not giving you a real clue to where it is at.”

6. There are more migrants and more people age 25-29

Don’t aim your business at white Australia because Australia hasn’t looked that way for quite a while.

The census shows that despite the economic impacts of the global financial crisis which started in 2007 and the ongoing repercussions within global financial markets, Australia experienced strong and sustained population growth throughout the period 2007–2011.

In 2009, the addition of 394,000 people was the highest single annual increase to Australia's population, and the annual growth rate of 1.8% was unmatched since 1972.

Migration was a significant factor in the population growth during this period. For the first time since Federation, migration consistently contributed more to population growth than the contribution from natural increase.

However, much of this recent increase has come from increased numbers of long-term temporary migrants; those with student, holiday and business visas.

The effect of this high level of migration can be seen in the 25–29 years age group in 2011, where there were an additional 385,000 people compared with the numbers in this cohort when they were aged 5–9 years in 1991.

7.  There’s a baby and toddler boom

Times are looking good for Baby Co, Baby Bunting and childcare providers everywhere, according to the latest census figures.

Fertility in Australia peaked in 2008 at 1.96 babies per woman, an increase linked to a catch-up in fertility following the delayed fertility that had been observed over previous decades.

The effect of this increase in fertility can be seen in the greater size of the 0–5 years age group compared with the next older age group in 2011.

There were 85,200 more children in the younger age group in 2011.

8.  But we’re all getting older

The census figures show that in 2011, 14% of the population was aged 65 or over compared with 4% back in 1911.

A greater proportion of the population are now able to survive into older ages through improvements in sanitation, diet, public health and medical technology.

Also, the lower fertility that has prevailed over the last 30 years has meant there are relatively fewer younger people to counterbalance those in older age groups.

In future years, population ageing will increase as the baby boom generation enters older age, meaning even more opportunities for retirement homes and aged care providers.

9.  Lots of Australians speak languages other than English

In 2011, 81% of Australians aged five years and over, spoke only English at home, while 2% didn't speak English at all.

The most common languages spoken at home (other than English) were Mandarin (1.7%), Italian (1.5%), Arabic (1.4%), Cantonese (1.3%) and Greek (1.3%).

Almost half (49%) of longer-standing migrants and 67% of recent arrivals spoke a language other than English at home.

This probably reflects the main countries of birth for these two groups and also the amount of time spent in Australia.

However, this doesn't provide any indication of their ability to speak English.

Over half (51%) of longer-standing migrants reported speaking English very well, while 2.6% reported not speaking English at all.

For recent arrivals, 43% reported speaking English very well and the proportion who reported not speaking English at all was 3.1%.

10.  The business opportunities the census didn’t reveal

Phil Ruthven told SmartCompany there is a lot of information that the census does not cover which offers opportunities for business.

Ruthven says the increasing reach of franchising as a sector is an area not touched on by the census.

“The service industries are 72% of our economy now and we have seen a lot of franchising in the area of outsourced household services,” he says.

In 2011, the amount of money spent by households in outsourcing chores overtook retail sales for the first time in history and hit $270 million.

“More and more people, particularly the young people, are more inclined to work for themselves than a large corporation and franchising is a good way to do this,” says Ruthven.

“That’s not something the census measures; it identifies the job you have got but does not identify the companies you work for.”

Ruthven warns that spending on gambling and alcohol is an area not touched on by census data and “uniformly understated”, with Australians gambling more than twice what we say we do.

“There are some things in a survey that you have to take with a grain of salt,” says Ruthven.

“Gambling actually reached a peak a few years ago, because the amount of money going out in mortage payments was really starting to bite hard.  It’s really sobered up the Australian public quite noticeably. We are saving more and spending less on gambling.”


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