Net migration falls as growing number of migrants pack their bags
By Paul McBeth
Oct. 19 (BusinessDesk) - New Zealand's annual net migration continued to fall from record levels last year as a growing number of migrants pack their bags and leave.
Net migration was 62,733 in the year ended Sept. 30, down from 63,288 in August and 70,986 a year earlier, Statistics New Zealand said. Migrant arrivals slipped 2 percent to 128,982, while departures climbed 9.3 percent to 66,249, the highest number for a September year since 2013.
Annual non-New Zealand citizen departures climbed 18 percent to 31,768, while local departures were up 2.5 percent to 34,481.
Australia has traditionally been the destination of choice for people when they leave New Zealand, however, just 4,572 non-Kiwis went across the ditch. In contrast, 21,138 Kiwis decamped for Australia.
"The big factor continuing to weigh on migration is departures of non-New Zealand citizens to areas other than Australia, which has remained high," Westpac Banking Corp senior economist Satish Ranchhod said.
"That’s actually an echo of the increase in arrivals of those on temporary work and student visas that we saw in previous years. We expect that departures will remain high for some time yet," he said.
Ranchhod expects slowing migration will persist and a smaller population will lead to softer demand. The kiwi dollar was largely unchanged after the release, recently trading at 65.31 US cents.
New Zealand's strong inbound migration was a key plank for aggregate economic growth in recent years, and the Treasury still sees it as a tailwind for the rest of 2018. However, it also added stress to infrastructure and has been seen as stifling wage growth as more people compete for work.
Tourism has been another plank supporting the economy. Today's figures show short-term arrivals were up 2.1 percent to 258,155 in September from a year earlier. There were 3.1 million annual visitors, up 3.1 percent from a year earlier.
China provided the biggest boost to tourist numbers, up 11 percent, or 45,200, to 452,944 in the September year. Australia remains the biggest pool of visitors at 1.47 million, up 0.5 percent from September 2017.