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Net migration provisionally at 61,600

Migrant arrivals were provisionally estimated at 153,100 (± 1,600) and migrant departures at 91,600 (± 1,200) in the 12 months ended February 2019, Stats NZ said today. This resulted in a provisional estimate of annual net migration of 61,600 (± 1,800).

“Provisional annual net migration of 61,600 in the year ended February 2019 is near the highest reported under the new outcomes-based measure,” population insights senior manager Brooke Theyers said.

“However, net migration data is subject to revision under the new outcomes-based measure, and revisions may be significant in the first few months after initial release.”

That means net migration data is most valuable when put in the context of a longer time series.

“Annual arrival and departure data become subject to less revision four or five months after the figures are first published,” Mrs Theyers said.

“We encourage data users to look at both the latest available figures and annual net migration from a few months earlier, for example the 52,200 annual net migration in the year ended September 2018.”

See the section below for a discussion of the September 2018 estimates.

Migration estimates (thousands) by direction, rolling annual, year ended December 2001 to February 2019

In the year ended February 2019, 38 percent of migrant arrivals were citizens of Asian countries and 34 percent were citizens of countries in Oceania (New Zealand, Australia, and Pacific countries). Over the same period, 55 percent of migrant departures were citizens of Oceania and 24 percent were citizens of Asia. New Zealand citizens were the largest group for both arrivals (24 percent) and departures (48 percent).

Year ended September 2018 – how estimates become more certain over time

With each extra month of data, the migration estimation model has more information about the border crossings it is trying to estimate. An example of this is the third revision to migration estimates for the year ended September 2018.

“We can classify most border crossings as short-term or long-term after four or five months,” Mrs Theyers said.

“As a result, the provisional estimates published today for the year ended September 2018 are less variable and have more certainty than when they were first released in January.”

The provisional estimate of net migration for the year ended September 2018 is 52,200 (± 700). Migrant arrivals are provisionally estimated at 144,100 (± 600) and migrant departures at 91,900 (± 500).

These compare with an estimated 141,200 (± 900) migrant arrivals and 95,900 (± 900) migrant departures when first published in January 2019. Net migration was estimated at 45,300 (± 1,100).

This means migrant arrivals were higher than first estimates, and departures were lower. Consequently, the revised provisional net migration for the year ended September 2018 was 6,600 higher than first estimates indicated.

By the second revision of data, published last month, estimates of migrant arrivals were similar to the revised data published today, while migrant departures were only slightly higher. As a result, there was a small upward change to estimated net migration.

New Zealand and non-New Zealand citizens

In the year ended September 2018, New Zealand citizens accounted for 25 percent of migrant arrivals and 46 percent of migrant departures.

Estimated migration (mean estimate), year ended September 2018

Revisions to previous estimates

The graph below shows rolling annual migration estimates for migrant arrivals, migrant departures, and net migration, from October 2017 to February 2019. It illustrates how the level of change to migration estimates reduces over the months after the first release.

Migration estimates by direction, rolling annual, October 2017 to February 2019

The arrival and departure estimates become more certain after each subsequent month, and especially after four to five months. Stats NZ is aware that the scale of early revisions to provisional migration estimates have surprised some customers. Current work to provide more information about the new migration estimates includes:
• extending the new migration estimates back to the early 2000s
• analysis of revisions over this extended period to better understand revision patterns
• derivation and release of travel and migration data for subnational areas
• deriving ‘credible intervals’ which are wider than the currently published ‘confidence intervals’, to better indicate future revisions to provisional estimates.

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