Migration hits another record as Kiwis stay put

Immigration settings have tightened up recently but there’s not likely to be a let up in housing demand anytime soon - with migration hitting a new record in March.

Wednesday, April 26th 2017, 12:00AM

by Miriam Bell

There was a record annual net gain of 71,900 migrants in the year ending March 2017, according to Statistics New Zealand’s latest data.

This total is a big jump from the previous record net gain of 71,300 migrants, which was set in February.

Once seasonally adjusted, there was a monthly net gain of 6,100 migrants in March. This was a slight increase from February’s net gain of 6,000 but down from January’s net gain of 6,500.

But, although there is an ongoing rise in the number of migrants arriving in New Zealand on work visas, a drop-off in departures is playing a big part in the record gains.

Westpac senior economist Satish Ranchhod said gains in migration were due to both increases in the number of new arrivals - and more New Zealanders choosing to stay onshore or come back from overseas.

March actually saw a drop-off in new arrivals but this was offset by a sharp fall in the numbers of New Zealanders moving overseas, he said.

“On an annual basis, flows of New Zealanders out of the country are at the lowest level since 1984.

“This may reflect that less favourable offshore conditions are making New Zealand’s relatively positive economic outlook appear very attractive.”

Ranchhod said this reinforces the outlook for demand in the New Zealand economy.

A decline in the month’s departures was the main driving force for the latest annual migration record, ASB economist Daniel Snowden agreed.

“Net migration flows will continue to support overall economic growth, even though the flow is likely to soften over time.”

For the housing market, particularly in Auckland, the ongoing strong migration flow means that one of the market’s major demand drivers – population growth – remains firmly in play.

It also adds further urgency to the drive to address the housing supply shortage the country, but particularly Auckland, is struggling with.

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