In the past, population growth in Australia's Northern Territory, as in other peripheral parts of high-income countries, has been driven by internal labour migration and migration from outside of Australia. These have been contributing to the high population turnover experienced in peripheral areas. Since 2010, the Northern Territory has experienced low (and even negative) population growth, and public policy is currently focused on migration as a lever to reverse this trend. However, the extent to which the characteristics of migrants influence the potential for longer-term population growth is poorly understood. This paper uses a new method to analyse the contributions of various types of migrants to both population turnover and retention. Two major sets of findings emerge: First, the significance of separating newer in-migrants from longer-term residents when analysing migration patterns; and secondly, the contribution of age, gender, Indigenous status, international origin, wages and industry of employment to the Northern Territory's population turnover. The research suggests that current forms of migration favour people who are likely to stay for only short periods, and have high wage demands. The main policy inference is that long-term population growth will likely not eventuate unless new forms of migration can be stimulated.