Melbourne is growing out and Sydney is growing up, the latest regional population growth figures show.
Greater Melbourne's Cranbourne East, South Morang, Epping and Point Cook were the four fastest-growing areas nationally in 2015, while Sydney's Waterloo-Beaconsfield area was fifth, the Australian Bureau of Statistics figures show.
However, Western Australia's once-booming mining areas suffered big losses.
The figures reveal the changing economy as the resources boom continues to unwind and services such as construction increase in the two most populous cities.
"What stands out is the outflow of people from Western Australian mining areas in the last financial year and the big population gains in the new housing areas of Victoria, and, to a lesser extent, NSW," CommSec chief economist Craig James said.
Wednesday's figures mirror the numbers for capital city growth in the year to June. Those showed population increases were concentrated in the south-east corner of the country, with Melbourne rising 2.1 per cent to 4,529,500 people in the year to June, faster than Sydney's 1.7 per cent increase to 4,921,000.
However, these new figures break down for the first time population movement to lower levels, such as regional, or Statistical Areas Level 2.
GREENFIELD EXPANSION CORRIDORS
While Sydney's biggest population increase comes in the booming Green Square area earmarked for a new Sydney Metro Line railway station, Melbourne's increase is slanted to the city's greenfield expansion corridors, in contrast to the record increases in supply of new apartments in the inner area.
In the year to September – the latest period for which figures are available – housing starts of apartments in Victoria increased 25 per cent to almost equal the number of stand-alone housing starts, historically a far higher number.
"Growth is heavily skewed to the fringe," MacroPlan Dimasi chief economist of planning consultancy Jason Anderson said. "This seems surprising, given the boom in apartment starts."
However, Melbourne's growth in outlying areas was likely to reflect a pause after previous strong growth in inner areas, while Sydney's population figures were playing catch-up to strong urban growth, Mr Anderson said.
Cranbourne East in the Victorian capital's south-east growth corridor added 4600 people to rise to 18,900, a 32 per cent increase. South Morang in the outer-north posted a 4200 increase to 59,300, a 7.6 per cent rise.
In Sydney, the population of Waterloo-Beaconsfield rose 3100, or 11.4 per cent, to 29,800.
The expansion contrasted with an area like Pilbara in Western Australia, where East Pilbara and Newman suffered population falls of 2.3 per cent and 6.8 per cent, respectively.
Perth's growth last year was its slowest rate in a decade, increasing 1.6 per cent, compared with 1.9 per cent in 2014.
Brisbane's population growth also slowed to a decade-low 1.6 per cent, down slightly from 1.7 per cent last year.
However, Queensland's 1 per cent rest of state growth was the fastest of all state regions, while Gold Coast's population increased 1.8 per cent to 569,951.
Regional cities grew, reflecting the flight to affordability as many workers sought the relief of lower housing costs.
In the Illawarra region south of Sydney, Wollongong's population rose 1.2 per cent to 131,834, and Kiama-Shellharbour grew 1.3 per cent to 91,153.
"They allow for mobile workers servicing the wider urban areas," Mr Anderson said.
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