Net migration numbers to NZ look to have peaked

Migration into New Zealand still remains at near record highs but economists say it appears net permanent long-term migration has already peaked.

Statistics New Zealand figures on international travel and migration, released yesterday, showed annual net migration was 72,100 in the year ended August.

In August last year, there were 69,100 migrants.

In the month, there were 5490 migrants compared to 5760 in August last year.

Migrant arrivals reached 132,200 and migrant departures were 60,1000 in the August year, population statistics senior manger Peter Dolan said.

The biggest decrease was from India, which was down 2600 to 9200, due to a fall in student migrant arrivals.In the year ended August, the met migration was mostly driven by non-New Zealand citizens  who provided New Zealand with a net gain of 73,500 migrants compared with 71,700 last year.

Migration of New Zealanders meant a net loss of 1500 migrants compared with a net loss of 2600 last year.

Westpac senior economist Satish Ranchhod said net migration remained elevated on an annual basis but there were signs it was turning.

Departures of non-New Zealand citizens were increasing.

Westpac forecasts had incorporated a slow down in net migration for several months.

"We are now seeing more convincing signs this is occurring and it could be coming through even faster than we expected."

Expectations for softer economic growth in the coming year had been reinforced, he said.

Population growth and migration had been key factors propping up demand and economic growth in recent years.

It had masked what was actually been "quite modest" increases in economic output in recent years on a per-capita basis — as was reflected in the June quarter GDP growth figures.

Gross domestic product (GDP) expanded 0.8% in the three months to July, up from a revised 0.6%  expansion in the March quarter and was 2.5% higher in the year, Statistics NZ said.

ASB chief economist Nick Tuffley said there were no implications for the official cash rate from yesterday’s migration figures.

The Reserve Bank was expected to keep the official cash rate on hold at 1.75% until early 2019.

Strong net migration flows would continue to support overall economic growth but would act to contain wage and pricing pressures as the expansion matured, he said.

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