New Zealand's net migration surged in September as fewer New
Zealanders moved to Australia.
Statistics New Zealand figures released yesterday showed a
net inflow of 2740 migrants in September, the strongest
monthly inflow recorded since July 2003.
ASB chief economist Nick Tuffley said migration had
strengthened considerably over the past year due to fewer New
Zealanders moving to Australia.
''The trend continued with departures to Australia falling by
about 9% month-on-month, matching the decline in total
departures. Departures to Australia were 40% lower than in
September 2012,'' he said.
Labour and the Greens, which had long been critical of the
number of people moving to Australia, again remained silent
on the figures which show more people returning from
Australia as the job market sours, and fewer people leaving
Mr Tuffley said there were many reasons New Zealanders
decided to emigrate to Australia, including the weather and
But the primary driver was the relative states of the labour
markets in the two countries.
When job opportunities in Australia were plentiful relative
to New Zealand, many New Zealanders would leave as they did
not require a visa to work in Australia and the wages on
offer were usually attractive.
When the Australian job market was struggling, New Zealanders
would again be responsive as they were usually ineligible for
unemployment benefits in Australia.
''Many New Zealanders who find themselves out of work in
Australia may return home and fewer New Zealanders will take
the risk of moving to Australia in the first place,'' he
Westpac senior economist Felix Delbruck said the net inflow
of people entering the country was stronger than he expected,
with the surprise largely due to a further fall in departures
of New Zealanders to Australia.
At just 2330, it was the lowest number since January 2010.
Arrivals of non-New Zealand immigrants continued at an
''If recent trends continue, annual net immigration will
easily surpass 20,000 by the end of this year.
"With unemployment in Australia expected to hit around 6.5%
next year, we expect net immigration to rise even further in
2014, making this New Zealand's biggest immigration cycle
since the early 2000s.''
The numbers released yesterday were big enough to matter for
the housing market over the short to medium-term, Mr Delbruck
They were one reason he was expecting house prices to keep
rising in the year ahead - albeit at a slower pace - despite
the lending restrictions and recent rises in fixed-term
Statistical modelling suggested a net inflow of an extra
10,000 people was associated with an extra 3% worth of
housing price inflation. That suggested net migration had
turned from a significant drag on the housing market to a
positive factor which would only get stronger next year, he
Overall, New Zealand had a net gain of 15,200 migrants over
the 12 months to September, compared with a net loss of 3300
in the previous year.
The highest number of migrants by country came from the
United Kingdom (6000), ahead of China (5400), and India
BNZ senior economist Craig Ebert said the Reserve Bank had
increasingly mentioned immigration in its commentary and
documents this year, in the context of not just the
problematic housing market but things such as potential
growth and the way it influenced thoughts on so-called
neutral interest rates.
''So, today's results will only intensify this debate.
For us, the sudden strength in net immigration - recall it
was next to nothing earlier this year - is simply another
fundamental reason for the Reserve Bank to begin normalising
its policy rate, lest we repeat the extent of the 2003-07
cycle,'' he said.
Most economists are picking March for the first rise in the
official cash rate from the current 2.5%.