For the first time it is possible to find out where people who have moved to Australia to work and who are not permanent residents have moved to with data showing they prefer Sydney and Melbourne.

The figures published by the Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS) reveal that just over half were living in Sydney and Melbourne, according to the figures from the 2016 Census, with 27% in Sydney and 24% in Melbourne, while 14% were living in Brisbane.

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(By ChameleonsEye/​

'By combining 2016 Census data and temporary visa information from the Department of Home Affairs, we now have a comprehensive picture of where groups of temporary residents live, the countries they come from, what work they do, what they earn and if they are studying,' said Myles Burleigh, ABS director of migration statistics.

A breakdown of the figures shows that 81% of temporary residents lived in capital cities, compared with 67% of all Australians. Outside capital cities, the most popular areas were regional Queensland with 10% and regional New South Wales with 4%.

New Zealand citizens on subclass 444 Special Category visas were the largest group of temporary residents in Australia. They were most likely to live in Brisbane with 20% doing so, then 18% in Melbourne and the same in Sydney.

Students were the second largest group of temporary residents at 30% and were most likely to have been born in China where 27% came from, while 13% were from India. Most, some 34%, lived in Sydney and 31% in Melbourne.

Temporary residents holding skilled work visas were the third largest group and they had the highest median weekly personal income at $1,143 per week. They were most likely to have been born in India and England at 20% and 12% respectively.

In comparison, 84% of working holiday makers had a median weekly personal income of $648 per week with 17% coming from South Korea, 16% from Taiwan and 14% from England.

A separate set of ABS figures show that the number of people living in Australia's capital cities in 2017/2018 remained steady, increasing by 1.9% or 307,800 people, similar to the average growth over the previous three years.

Melbourne was the capital city with the largest population increase at 119,400 people, followed by Sydney up 93,400 and Brisbane up 50,100. Together, these three capitals accounted for over 65% of Australia's population growth in 2017/2018.

Melbourne also had the highest growth rate of any Australian capital at 2.5%, ahead of Canberra up 2.2% and Brisbane up 2.1%. Darwin was the only capital city to experience a population decline in 2017/2018, losing 360 people, a fall of 0.2%.

The data also reveals the largest and fastest growing areas in each state and territory. Cranbourne East in Melbourne had the largest growth in Australia in terms of numbers, up by 7,300 people, while Rockbank - Mount Cottrell, also in Melbourne, was the fastest growing in terms of growth rate at 59%.