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Migration hits another record high

Strong migration will continue to be an economic driver over the coming year as the latest data reveals yet another annual net gain record.

Wednesday, October 21st 2015, 2:17PM

by Miriam Bell

New Zealand saw a record net gain of 61,200 migrants in the year to September 2015, the latest Statistics New Zealand data shows.

This was driven by both more arrivals, which were up 13% from the September 2014 year, and fewer departures, which were down 4% from the September 2014 year.

Population statistics manager Joel Watkins said the annual net gain in migrants has been setting new records for the last 14 months.

Seasonally adjusted figures showed a net gain of 5,600 migrants in September 2015.

Watkins said net migration has been fluctuating around 5,100 over the last 13 months, and peaked in July 2015 at 5,700.

Around half of all new arrivals were planning to move to Auckland.

However, the nature of the net immigration boom might be changing.

Westpac chief economist Dominick Stephens said that, while the number of New Zealand citizens leaving remains historically low, the amount has actually been creeping higher for a year.

At the same time, the number of overseas citizens arriving has been rising steadily and is now 10% higher than three months ago.

But there has also been a noticeable lift in people arriving on student and temporary worker visas.

Stephens said net migration is likely to remain very strong over the coming year but that, over the next few years, it will eventually slow.

“New Zealand's economy is slowing and Australia will eventually become a more attractive destination for migrants from an economic point of view.”

Further, the inflow of foreign migrants is now running well above residence approval targets (90,000 - 100,000 over two years), he said.

“Consequently many recent migrants on temporary visas will have to return home over the next couple of years.”

Migration has been an important economic force in recent years, Stephens said.

“It has supported GDP growth and house prices while helping to suppress wages and inflation - thereby contributing to the high-growth / low-inflation / low interest rate situation that has prevailed.”

This is unlikely to continue, Westpac’s economists recently warned.

In an article on migration, they said the current rate of population growth was unsustainably high and it was worth planning for a return to more historically normal levels of net migration of around 15,000 migrants a year.

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Heartland Bank - Online - - - -
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Westpac 4.59 4.15 4.09 4.49
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