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Rising departures cut net migration in July to lower-than-expected levels

A net loss of 2200 Kiwis over the year reflects the number moving to Australia.

Nevil Gibson
Tue, 21 Aug 2018

A year after net migration peaked at 72,400, annual permanent and long-time migration dropped by 8600 to 63,800 in the 12 months to July.

The monthly inflow fell to 4720 – below the Westpac forecast for a temporary rebound this month.

Non-New Zealand migrant arrivals are slightly down at 97,300, offset by a 1.3% rise in departures, leaving a net gain of 66,000. These departures are up 20% from a year earlier to 31,300.

Departing New Zealanders exceeded those who arrived by a margin or net loss of 2200 for the year.

Westpac senior economist Satish Ranchhod says the pickup in departures continues a trend of the past year.

"That’s actually an echo of the increase in arrivals of those on temporary work and student visas that we saw in previous years," he says.

"While some of the people on those visas will make the jump to permanent residency, many will depart after three to four years. We expect this pattern to continue for some time."

The net loss of 2200 Kiwis reflects the number heading across the Tasman as the Australian economy has turned around to outpace growth in New Zealand.  Departures to Australia have been running at low levels in recent years.

Looking forward, Mr Ranchhod says migration will continue to ease back over the next few years, pulling population growth down in the process.

"This reinforces our expectations for a period of soft demand growth over the coming years," he says.

High by world standards
Meanwhile, Statistics NZ population insights senior manager Brooke Theyers says annual net migration is still high by historical standards, despite the decline.

The net gain (June year) equates to 13 people per 1000 population. Similar net migration rates were also experienced in the early 2000s. 

Mrs Theyers says these rates are also high by international standards.

“Smaller countries like New Zealand and Ireland tend to have larger swings in net migration rates simply because they have a small population,” she says.

“In contrast, countries with large populations tend to have low net migration rates.”

For example, Germany had a net migration rate of 14 in 2015. Given its population of about 82 million, this equated to net migration of more than 1.1 million people in that year.

New Zealand’s current migration rate is almost four times as high as the UK and the US. Both had a net migration rate of 3.4 people per 1000 population in the June 2017 year.

Nevil Gibson
Tue, 21 Aug 2018
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Rising departures cut net migration in July to lower-than-expected levels
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