Net migration rises to fresh record in Oct as more kiwis return, Indian students arrive

New Zealand's annual migration rose to a fresh record for the third consecutive month in October.

New Zealand's annual migration rose to a fresh record for the third consecutive month in October, led by an increase in student arrivals from India and fewer kiwis crossing the Tasman to Australia.

The country gained a net 47,684 migrants in the year ended Oct. 31, the biggest ever gain, according to Statistics New Zealand. Annual arrivals rose 16 percent from the previous year to a new high of 107,200, while departures fell 20 percent to 59,500. The annual net loss to Australia was 5,300 people, the smallest loss in twenty years.

The Reserve Bank estimates strong migration will add 50,000 people to the labour force over the next two years. The central bank has been surprised by the "muted impact" record inflows have had on house price inflation so far, which it says hasn't led to as big a gain in property prices as in the past. This may be down to the composition of the migration flows, which have been characterised by fewer New Zealanders leaving for Australia as well as more returning from across the Tasman, and younger people coming on temporary working visas.

"This month's outturn was even stronger than we had expected, and will almost certainly have come as a surprise to the Reserve Bank," said Felix Delbruck, senior economist at Westpac Banking Corp. "The implications of migration for the economy and inflation are ambiguous - migration adds to the supply of available labour as well as to the demand for goods and services, and the relationship between net migration and the housing market is not straightforward."

Today's figures show, Indian arrivals jumped 64 percent in the year to be the third largest source of migrants at 10,722 people arriving. Australia was the biggest source of arrivals at 22,721 migrants in the year, although many are New Zealanders returning home, Statistics said. The United Kingdom was the second largest contributor, although arrivals fell 2.9 percent from the previous year, with 13,709 arriving.

In the month, New Zealand gained a seasonally adjusted net 5,200 migrants, surpassing the previous month's high of 4,800. Seasonally adjusted, there was a loss of 100 migrants to Australia in October, well below the peak monthly net loss of 4,300 migrants across the Tasman in February 2001.

The number of short term arrivals rose 8 percent to 210,600 in October from the same month a year earlier. On an annual basis, visitor arrivals rose 5 percent to 2.8 million from a year earlier, boosted by tourists from Australia, the US and Germany.

New Zealanders heading off on short overseas trips rose 7 percent to 207,000 in the month from a year earlier and was the highest ever for an October month, with more trips to Australia, Indonesia and Fiji recorded, Statistics NZ said. Annually, short term departures rose 3 percent to 2.26 million in the year.