Total annual migration continuing to decline slowly

The number of migrant workers coming to New Zealand continues to rise, Statistics New Zealand figures show.

In the year to March, migrant arrivals on work visas rose 6% to 46,300. At the same time, there was a 13% fall in arrivals on resident visas.

Statistics NZ population insights senior manager Brooke Theyers said migrants coming to New Zealand were the largest visa-type group.

The sources of the largest numbers of work-visas migrants were the United Kingdom, France and Germany.

A residence visa allowed migrants to live in New Zealand permanently. There were 14,600 arrivals on residence visas in the March year, down from 16,800 in the March 2017 year, she said.

The source countries with the largest falls in residence-visa migrants to New Zealand for the March year were: China, down 600 to 2800; UK, down 500 to 1000; India, down 300 to 1000; Philippines, down 300 to 800.

The number of student-visa migrants had almost no change in the year, along with the number of New Zealand and Australian citizen migrants, which stayed at 38,700.

Annual net migration for the year was 68,000, down 4400 from a record level of 72,400 in July 2017. While that is still strong, it is the lowest level in two years.

Mrs Theyers said net migration remained high by historical standards.

Net immigration for the March year was made up of 130,800 migrant arrivals and 62,900 migrant departures.

More non-New Zealand citizens were leaving but there were just as many migrants arriving as a year ago, she said.

There were 29,700 departures of non-New Zealand citizen migrants in the March year, up 2% from February and up 14% from July last year.

ASB senior economist Mark Smith had expected a rise in net permanent and long-term (PLT) inflows following February's three-year low.

However, rebounding PLT arrivals were offset by a further lift in PLT departures.

``It is our expectation the solid New Zealand domestic backdrop will maintain the strong allure of New Zealand. Departures will continue to trend upwards as the global economy strengthens and the tight Australian labour market attracts more Kiwis across the Ditch.''

ASB expected net PLT inflows to remain historically high for the next few years. Annual net inflows were expected to remain above 50,000 people at the end of 2019, he said.

Short-term visitor arrivals dipped 2.1% month-on-month, following the February boost attributable to the large influx of Chinese visitors during the Chinese New Year.

Statistics NZ still reported March was a record for the number of overseas visitors for a March month.

Annual visitor arrivals reached a record high of 3.79million, up 8% on the previous March year.

Robust global growth and closer connectivity from more direct flights had also underpinned strong growth in visitor numbers from Australia (up 39% year-on-year), the United States (9%) and China (11%).

``To maintain our allure as a tourist destination, focus needs to be on offering value-for-money experiences.''


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