Overseas migration to Tamworth and Gunnedah is driving the region's overall population growth, according to recently-published statistics.
Data collated by community not-for-profit organisation Regional Development Australia - Northern Inland (RDA-NI) shows population numbers in the two local government areas (LGAs) are outstripping those of its neighbours by a wide margin.
"Although the estimated resident population for the Northern Inland region grew by 1327 people - 0.7 per cent - between the 2016 and 2021 Census periods, this growth was not shared equally amongst the 12 LGAs," RDA-NI executive director Nathan Axelsson said.
"Tamworth and Gunnedah alone were largely responsible for this regional population growth with many other LGAs losing population."
The RDA-NI organisation aims to drive economic growth and investment within the Northern Inland region, geographically known as the New England and North West regions of NSW.
Mr Axelsson said population growth was a "major objective" all 12 LGAs in the New England and North West region were pursuing to reinvigorate the supply of labour which took a hit during the Covid-19 pandemic.
"For our communities and economies to grow and prosper and to attract the level of services communities expect, population and labour force supply are critical," he said.
According to the RDA-NI Northern Inland Migration Report for 2016 to 2021, more than 1622 people moved to Tamworth from overseas, attracted in large part by work opportunities at the city's several major meat processing plants.
The international arrivals helped Tamworth overcome a loss of domestic migrants, many of whom moved to Queensland or the North Coast.
Overall, the estimated population grew by 2662 people, or 4.4 per cent, between 2016 and 2021.
Assuming Tamworth maintains a similar growth rate, this puts the regional centre back on track to reach the local council's goal of growing to a population of 100,000 people by 2041.
Gunnedah's population was also bolstered by overseas migration and a comparatively high birth rate, though the report says the area is losing mining workers to the Hunter and Newcastle areas.
Despite the challenge to the local mining industry, Gunnedah's estimated resident population increased by 594 people between 2016 and 2021.
Meanwhile, the estimated resident population decreased in seven of the region's 12 LGAs, including Glen Innes, Gwydir, the Liverpool Plains, Moree, Narrabri, Uralla, and Walcha.
Armidale, Inverell, and Tenterfield posted modest population increases which were also boosted by overseas migration.
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