Reduced migration as a result of the global coronavirus pandemic could add another layer to the economic challenges Wagga is set to face in the coming years.
In early May, Prime Minister Scott Morrison said the government was projecting a 30 per cent drop in net overseas migration in the 2019/2020 financial year, followed by an 85 per cent reduction on pre-coronavirus figures in 2021/2022.
Wagga mayor Greg Conkey said about 60 per cent of newcomers to the city in the past five years had come from overseas, with migrants playing a major role in the growth of the city.
"We rely on migrants and we will in the future if we're going to grow to 100,000 plus, we will certainly need a lot of employment opportunities and the migrants will be filling a number of those positions," he said.
"Our economy has been hit pretty hard by coronavirus ... this is another area that will be impacted."
CSU Economics Professor Yapa Bandara said as the government looked to direct migrants to the regions rather than the major cities, more infrastructure and employment opportunities were required.
He said the arrival of skilled migrants fueled regional development, which in turn encouraged more migration and built up the economy.
"I have seen over the last 15 yrs since I came here that Wagga has been growing, and this is a good sign," Professor Bandara said.
He said the drop in migration nationwide would naturally lead to lowered numbers moving to Wagga, which would reduce consumption as fewer people come in and begin to shop locally.
"Less people coming to the region means that expenditure in those places will go down," he said.
"When the consumption goes down, production will go down ... that means the economy may not grow as much as we expect."
With lowered consumption already a concern among those in Wagga, Professor Bandara said it was important schemes such as JobKeeper were retained as long as possible, with global impacts like lower migration set to remain for multiple years to come.
"The main thing we need to do is not to let the consumption level drop drastically ... we need to lift it and keep it otherwise businesses will further fail," he said.
Professor Bandara said in normal times, retaining migrants in regional areas was a challenge with many opting to move to larger cities if they could not find stable employment and a strong community.
Post coronavirus, he said retaining some migrants would be even more difficult with new arrivals a "hard-hit category," both for job losses and difficulty obtaining government support.
"Those people do not get government support and it is a terrible thing for them," he said.
"I would imagine that it's a good thing if the government could look after that segment as well in society."