GLOUCESTER’S population will shrink over the next 20 years according to new data published by the NSW Department of Planning and Environment.
The Gloucester local government area’s population will decrease from the current 5000 to 4850 by 2031, or 3.3 per cent, with negative population growth tipped from 2016 onwards.
While the population will shrink, the total number of households is expected to increase slightly in the next two years, reaching 2300 by 2016 from 2200 in 2011.
The average household size (ie the number of people living in a home) is also expected to decrease from a high of 2.23 in 2011 to 2.11 in 2021 and 2.04 in 2031.
The stats also support Gloucester’s status as a region with an ageing population.
The number of people aged 65 and over will increase significantly - from 1300 in 2011 to 1650 in 2021 and 1950 by 2031.
In contrast, the number of people under 55 years of age will decrease - from 2950 in 2011 to 2450 in 2021 and 2150 by 2031.
The Planning Department’s senior demographer Dr Kim Johnstone told ABC Radio the key issue for Gloucester’s negative growth was its ageing population.
“It’s not just Gloucester, it’s in a range of places across Australia where we’ve got older populations and populations are relatively stable,” she said.
“It’s that stability, where in and out flows are essentially offsetting each other, some people will move in and others will move out.”
Dr Johnstone said for the situation to change Gloucester would need to attract more young people.
“Age is one of the most important factors to take into account when we’re looking at population change,” she said.
“Because the age that people move is relatively predictable, it’s mainly people in their 20s and 30s.
“There’s obviously only a certain age that people can have babies as well.”
Perhaps in a sign of a tougher economic climate, the number of multiple family households is also expected to increase, from zero in 2011 to 50 in 2016.
The number of couples with children in households is predicted to fall over the next 20 years, from 500 in 2011 to 400 in 2031.
The number of single person dwellings will rise from 700 to 800.