NZ immigration retraces as more Aussies head home

By Leith van Onselen

Statistics New Zealand released its permanent & long-term migration figures for August 2018, which revealed that immigration into New Zealand has continued to drift back from record high levels, with 63,288 annual net permanent and long-term arrivals landing in New Zealand in the year to August, down from a peak of 72,402 recorded in the year to July 2017:

According to Statistics New Zealand:

This is the lowest August year since 2015. Net migration is continuing to ease from the record high of 72,400 in the year ended July 2017.

Migrant arrivals were 129,100 and migrant departures were 65,800 for the latest year.

Net migration from Australia to New Zealand continues to turn negative, with 1,216 leaving New Zealand for Australia in the year to August. 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 improved labour market has encouraged a net inflow of Kiwis back to Australia.

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