Four year high in migrant departures

Friday 22 June 2018

Migration flows into New Zealand continue to wane, with the latest Stats NZ data highlighting the downward trend

By Miriam Bell

Annual net migration in the May 2018 year came in at 66,200, according to Stats NZ.

This was a decline from 67,000 in the year to April 2018 and well down on the peak of 72,400 recorded in the July 2017 year.

Stats NZ population insights senior manager Brooke Theyer says this was mainly driven by an increase in migrant departures.

“Migrant departures are the highest they have been since May 2014. They are now almost half the number of migrant arrivals.”

Non-New Zealand citizen migrant departures were up by 22% from the same period last year and by 1.1% from the April 2018 year.

However, the numbers of New Zealand citizen migrant departures remains relatively unchanged from the same period last year.

Conversely, monthly migrant arrivals were up slightly to 5,090 in May as compared to 4,920 in April.

ASB senior economist Mark Smith says the data shows that net permanent and long-term migration remains on a moderating annual trend.

“We expect current trends to continue, with departures to continue rising and arrivals to continue moderating.”

Westpac senior economist Anne Boniface agrees, adding that annual net migration was weaker than expected in May.

She says rising departures of non-New Zealanders are driving the softening in annual net migration.

“We expect this trend to continue moving forward as many of the people who arrived in New Zealand on temporary work and student visas in recent years return home after completing their course or contract.”

They expect annual net migration to continue to ease in the coming years, Boniface says. “We forecast annual net migration to fall to a low of around 20,000 in around five years’ time.”

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