21 October 2015 (stuff.co.nz)
The number of Kiwis crossing the ditch to Australia has fallen to the lowest level in a generation, sending migration to a fresh record high of more than 61,000.
Net migration reached 61,234 in the year to September 30, the highest level on record, figures from Statistics New Zealand on Wednesday showed.
Migration has been reaching new records for each of the last 14 months and in August annual net migration topped 60,000 for the first time.
Net migration reflects the number of permanent and long term arrivals to New Zealand, less the number of permanent and long term departures.
While most of the gains overall are from India and China, the real driver for the increase is a sharp decline in Kiwis moving to Australia, and an increase in the number of Kiwis coming home from across the Tasman.
In the month of September New Zealand recorded a net gain of 100 migrants from Australia, the sixth monthly gain in a row. Although each monthly gain has been small, before April, New Zealand had not seen a single monthly gain from Australia since 1991.
As the Australian economy cools, the number moving to Australia fell to 200 in the year to September 30. This compares to the more than 40,000 New Zealand lost to Australia in the year to August 2012.
Westpac chief economist Dominick Stephens said the figures were “extremely strong” and remained above forecasts.
“With offshore labour markets remaining weak, net migration is likely to remain very strong over the coming year,” Stephens said.
“However, over the next few years we do expect migration 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.”
The largest overall contributors to migration were from India (12,900) and China (8500), while New Zealand had a net 4700 increase from the Philippines and 3700 from the United Kingdom.
Economists generally believe that strong migration boosts economic growth, but the continuing increase is likely to stoke unemployment as well as continue to support price increases in Auckland and surrounding areas.
Although the number of jobs in the New Zealand economy is still believed to be increasing, unemployment has climbed to 5.9 per cent in June, the latest figures available, as those trying to find work exceed new employees.
BNZ warned in September that during 2016 unemployment could climb back towards 7 per cent, and most of the banks have tipped an increase to around 6.5 per cent.
ASB senior economist Chris Tennent-Brown said migration was showing no sign of easing, and the number of migrants arriving appeared to be increasing.
“That strong inflow will support labour capacity, and contain wages. Housing demand will also remain supported by the inflows, particularly in Auckland,” Tennent-Brown said.