So much for NZ’s post-immigration business crunch

By Leith van Onselen

A fortnight ago, The AFR published the following fake news:

New Zealand pub owner Chris Dickson worries his staff is overworked. He expected employment visas for two new overseas workers to be approved weeks ago, but the paperwork was delayed with no clear reason given.

…”We are struggling to find people,” Dickson said. “It’s an epidemic.”

…A plunge in net immigration is intensifying New Zealand’s labour shortage and hurting the economy to the point that the country’s central bank singled out the issue when it cut interest rates for the first time since 2016 this month.

Today, Statistics New Zealand has released its monthly net migration data, which reveals that immigration into New Zealand remains at historical highs:

Annual net migration has remained at high levels since the December 2014 year, Stats NZ said today.

“Since late 2014, annual net migration has ranged between 48,000 and 64,000,” population indicators manager Tehseen Islam said.

“The only previous time net migration was at these levels was for a short period in the early 2000s.”

Migrant arrivals were provisionally estimated at 151,000 (± 1,500) and migrant departures at 95,100 (± 1,200) in the 12 months ended April 2019. This resulted in a provisional estimate of annual net migration of 55,800 (± 1,600)…

About three-quarters of migrant arrivals were non-New Zealand citizens (109,700 ± 600) in the November 2018 year. Over the same period, just over half of migrant departures were non-New Zealand citizens.

More New Zealand citizens left the country long-term than returned – leading to an estimated net loss of 8,600 (± 500) New Zealand citizens in the November 2018 year.

Recently, Iain Lees-Galloway announced an expansion of skills shortage lists enabling employers to recruit more migrant labour:

The Government has announced a series of changes to immigration settings it says will address skills shortages in the country’s regions…

Under the changes three occupations will be added to the Regional Skill Shortage List (RSSL). They are early childhood, primary school and secondary school teachers…

While the Long Term Skill Shortage List (LTSSL) identifies occupations where there is a sustained shortage of highly skilled workers throughout New Zealand. It will include aged care nurses.

If a migrant worker is qualified for the job and meets the requirements specified for that occupation, they may be granted either an Essential Skills Work Visa or a LTSSL Work Visa. If they apply for a Work to Residence visa, they can apply for residency after two years.

While the Construction and Infrastructure Skill Shortage List (CISSL) outlines where there are immediate short-term skill shortages in the New Zealand’s construction labour market. If a business is seeking someone in one of the listed occupations a migrant worker may be granted an Essential Skills Work Visa…

Is it any wonder, then, that wages aren’t rising at all:

Percentage change from previous quarter
2018 Mar 0.3 0.3 0.3 0.3 0.3
Jun 0.2 0.2 0.2 0.6 0.5
Sep 0.5 0.5 0.5 0.5 0.5
Dec 0.9 0.6 0.7 0.5 0.5
2019 Mar 0.2 0.7 0.5 0.3 0.4
Percentage change from same quarter of previous year
2018 Mar 1.7 1.5 1.5 1.9 1.8
Jun 1.7 1.2 1.3 2.1 1.9
Sep 1.8 1.4 1.5 1.9 1.8
Dec 1.9 1.6 1.7 2.0 1.9
2019 Mar 1.8 2.0 1.9 2.0 2.0

Indeed, wages have been dipping in and out of real falls.

It’s a great shame for NZ that this story is fake and the NZ Government has failed to implement its election promise to slash immigration.

Because if some far flung bar is struggling to find workers then there’s a simple solution: lift wages to attract workers not whine to the press.

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Unconventional Economist

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