NZ immigration eases as Aussie exodus ends

By Leith van Onselen

Statistics New Zealand released its permanent & long-term migration figures for June 2018, which revealed that immigration into New Zealand has continued to drift back from record high levels, with 64,995 annual net permanent and long-term arrivals landing in New Zealand in the year to June, down from a peak of 72,402 recorded in the year to July 2017:

According to Statistics New Zealand:

“An increase in migrants leaving, particularly non-New Zealand citizens, continued to be the key factor in lower annual net migration,” acting population insights senior manager Michelle Feyen said.

“A decrease in migrant arrivals also contributed, but net migration still remains high by historical standards.”

In the June 2018 year, non-New Zealand citizen migrant departures were up 21 percent from a year ago to 30,900, and up 1.2 percent from the May 2018 year.

Migrant arrivals dipped below 130,000 for the first time since the April 2017 year. Both New Zealand and non-New Zealand citizen migrant arrivals decreased for the June 2018 year.

More New Zealand citizens are leaving the country long term than returning. In the year ended June 2018, there was a net loss of 1,800 New Zealand citizens, partly offsetting the net gain of 66,800 non-New Zealand citizens.

Net migration from Australia to New Zealand has turned negative, with 831 leaving New Zealand for Australia in the year to June. This is down from the recent peak flow of 1,965 people that moved to New Zealand from Australia in the year to September 2016:

As pointed out each month, New Zealanders should be particularly sensitive to employment prospects in Australia, and swings in migration levels between the two nations should be indicative of the underlying strength of the Australian labour market compared with the New Zealand market.

That is, when job prospects are relatively strong in Australia, we should logically expect migration into Australia from New Zealand to increase substantially. By contrast, when Australian employment conditions weaken, we should logically expect New Zealand migration to slow.

The below chart plots annual Kiwi net migration against the trend Australian unemployment rate:

As you can see, the correlation is fairly strong. And Australia’s improving labour market has encouraged a net inflow of Kiwis back to Australia.

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