I had a little piece in The Australian today on some of the modelling and mapping work we’ve been doing recently at Education Geographics, mostly for schools. Australian subscribers can find the link here: https://tinyurl.com/283vk8cy
Distinguished Australian Economist Saul Eslake estimates that closing our international borders to tourists and international students is costing us about $22 billion a year in export income in the medium to longer term, but it’s made the recovery in our unemployment rate look much more dramatic, because it’s sucked out a large slice of the growth in the labour market and left the stimulus focussed on relatively few potential workers.
The problem for the Commonwealth Government now is that it’s been relying on lazy growth to boost GDP for so long, that when it closed our international borders last March, it had no cards left to play, as GDP growth dived into negative territory.
So, the Government and our central bank resorted to expansionary fiscal and monetary policies which basically involved spraying billions into the economy to boost demand in a labour market which had just lost a major source of its recent growth – net overseas migrants and international students in particular.
When we worked out some spatial models for future post-Covid population growth and projected these down to suburb levels, we found the biggest impacts from the border closures were in the suburbs surrounding many of our existing universities, presumably the ones which had been most successful at attracting overseas students. You can see our online national map on these demographic potholes at https://tinyurl.com/hswp2938 )
And then, when we modelled and mapped the new ABS payroll jobs data down to suburbs, we saw a significant loss of jobs since March 2020, were in many of the same heavily impacted University catchments, presumably due to a cut in international students also driving a big spatial drop in demand for things like student accommodation and food and of course, demand for University staff.
So, closing international borders and turning off the supply of international students has reduced both the supply of labour near these Universities and also the demand for labour, shrinking spatial economies significantly. To fix these spatial problems we need a fully vaccinated population, safe quarantine facilities and a progressive re-opening of international movement of visitors and students.