NZ immigration continues to retrace as Aussies head home

By Leith van Onselen

Statistics New Zealand released its permanent & long-term migration figures for September 2018, which revealed that immigration into New Zealand has continued to drift back from record high levels, with 62,733 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:

Migration continues to ease from the record levels seen last year.

There were 129,000 migrant arrivals (down 2,600) and 66,200 migrant departures (up 5,600) in the year ended September 2018 compared with the same period last year…

Of the 66,200 migrant departures, more than half were New Zealand citizens (34,500). However, non-New Zealand citizens leaving the country rose to 31,800 over the 12 months.

“The increase in migrant departures, and decrease in migrant arrivals, both contributed to a lower net migration level,” population insights senior manager Brooke Theyers said.

Net migration from Australia to New Zealand continues to turn negative, with 1,575 leaving New Zealand for Australia in the year to September. 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 strong. And Australia’s improved labour market has encouraged a net inflow of Kiwis back to Australia.

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