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Migration is increasingly important to Australia’s labour force. One in three workers in Australia were born overseas. One in five workers currently hold either a temporary or permanent visa.

But the role migrants play in Australia’s labour market is poorly understood. Australia’s migration program is complex. Few understand who migrants are in Australia including what visas they hold, what skills they have, where they work, and what they earn. This guidebook provides a clear picture of where migrants, including all temporary and permanent visa-holders, work in Australia.

Many industries rely heavily on migrant workers, but the visas that migrants hold vary dramatically across industries. Professional and health services employ large numbers of permanent skilled and family visa-holders, who typically earn high wages in higher-skilled roles. Sectors such as hospitality rely much more on temporary migrants, especially international students, to fill less-skilled jobs at low wages.

Migration policy has important implications for Australia’s economy and society. But to shape policy, we need to understand the existing migration patterns. The authors hope this guide will provide a useful reference document to inform these important policy discussions.

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Grattan Institute Guidebook No. 2022-06