SOUTH Australians are older than the average Australian, our population is stagnating and we are having fewer babies, a population report shows.
The most common age for a South Australian is 50, almost double the most common age around the country of 26, the latest annual Business & Population Monitor report says.
SA has the slowest population growth of the mainland states, at 0.8 per cent per year, and the smallest proportion of that population growth which comes from new births.
The report, prepared by PKF Chartered Accountants and Business Advisers in partnership with BIS Shrapnel, says SA has a very low ratio of births to population, despite the fertility rate being similar to the Australian average. "The explanation for this apparent inconsistency is that younger people tend to be the ones leaving the state, and are having their children elsewhere," it says.
All this means the state's population growth "is likely to remain low for some time" and that is a danger to business, the report says.
"It appears as though poor perceived job prospects in South Australia are encouraging residents to move out of the state in search of work, dragging down population growth. This further reduces the job prospects in the state."
The report suggests businesses look to practical measures to deal with the resulting skills shortages, such as attracting skilled migrants. Business SA chief executive Peter Vaughan urged a greater intake of skilled migrants.
"We will have significant problems with skills shortages and that's going to be exacerbated by the population drift (out of the state)," he said.
PKF Adelaide partner Tony Simmons said it was up to the Government to promote the state as a "good place to live and work". Premier Jay Weatherill has announced the Government will develop a new brand to market the state internationally by the end of the year.
On a recent trade mission to London, he encouraged SA expats to return to the state which he said now offered more job opportunities. He also received a warning from global business leaders that SA must provide more affordable housing options if it is to attract skilled workers and investment.