Archive | Migration

Updated: Migrant inflow slips again, transTasman outflow resumes

Published & updated 21 May 2018:
The inflow of long-term migrants to New Zealand dropped by just under 1000 in April compared to a year ago, and the total for the last 12 months is down 4900 to 67,038. The net inflow for the 12 months to March was 67,984.

Statistics NZ is trying to improve its information and where in the country migrants end up, including reclassifying some short-term visitors as long-term immigrants.

In the meantime, its figures out today show a fall in the number stopping in Auckland fell for the month but were still ahead for the year.

The net outflow to Australia was steady for both month & year.

The bald statistics:

Net migrant inflow April: 2460 (3406 in April last year)
Net migrant inflow April year: 67,038 (71,885)
Migrants into Auckland in April: 3725 (3849)
Migrants into Auckland in April year: 58,337 (57,885)
Net Auckland inflow in April:  1471 (1880)
Net Auckland inflow in April year: 34,039 (35,864)
Net outflow to Australia in April: 486 (316)
Net outflow to Australia in April year: 162 outflow (780 inflow).

The Australian factor

The Australian factor has been important in New Zealand’s migration picture.

In the 6 years to April 2013, an average 40,000/year NZ citizens left for Australia and a total 57,000 (average 9500/year) came the other way.

The peak was in 2012, when over 48,000 NZ citizens left for Australia (a net 39,600 exited) and total emigration topped 53,000. Departing Kiwis outnumbered those returning by almost 6 to 1.

In the next 2 years the number departing dwindled to a net just below 2000/year, but NZ citizen departures were still up at 6600.

In 2016-17 there was a net inflow from Australia (1721 & 780 in the 2 April years), but the NZ citizen exit rate remained in the thousands. In the latest 12 months, the NZ citizen outflow was 5245.

Over the last 5 years, 14-17,000 NZ citizens/year have come home from Australia, while 29,000 went the other way in 2014, dropping to 22,300 in 2015 and to just over 20,000 in each of the last 3 years.

Attribution: Statistics NZ tables.

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Net migrant inflow slips below 68,000

The net annual inflow of migrants is down by 4000 compared to a year ago, and 4400 below the peak last July. But, as Statistics NZ pointed out today, 67,984/year is still an historically high migration level.

The net inflow in March was 959 short of the figure last March, the result of a drop of 121 in arrivals but, having greater impact, a rise in exits of 838.

On an annual basis, exits got down to about 56,000 2 years ago but have risen close to 63,000 in the last 12 months, while arrivals climbed over the 100,000 mark in 2015 and continued rising – to 124,000 in the March 2016 year, just under 130,000 the next year and just over 130,000 this year.

The net exit of NZ citizens was 701 in March and 1081 for the last 12 months on about 32-33,000 arrivals & departures.

Non-citizen arrivals rose by about 1240 over the last 12 months while departures were up nearly 5000.

From 2007-14, the net outflow of NZ citizens to Australia totalled 215,000. In the next 3 years it totalled only 14,000. In March there was a net outflow (NZ citizens & others) to Australia of 281. And for the 12 months to March? A net inflow from Australia to New Zealand of 8.

Statistics NZ said migrants arriving on work visas rose 6% in the March year to 46,338 (43,725), while there was a 13% fall in arrivals on residence visas to 14,590 (16,763). The largest numbers of work-visa migrants were the UK, France & Germany.

Statistics questioned

The Statistics NZ report made no mention of a Treasury paper published a week ago, which questioned the actual level of population growth in Auckland, in particular. You can see what that’s about in the separate article link below.

The bald statistics:

Net migrant inflow March: 3919 (4878 in March last year)
Net migrant inflow March year: 67,984 (71,932; 72,402 in the 12 months to July 2017)
Migrants into Auckland in March: 4603 (4748)
Migrants into Auckland in March year: 58,461 (57,710)
Net Auckland inflow in March:  2307 (2787)
Net Auckland inflow in March year: 34,448 (35,772)
Net outflow to Australia in March: 283 (112)
Net outflow to Australia in March year: 1018 inflow (8 inflow).

Related story:
24 March 2018: Treasury paper questions Auckland’s actual population growth

Attribution: Statistics NZ tables & release.

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Treasury paper questions Auckland’s actual population growth

An analytical paper published by the NZ Treasury last week raises questions about the accuracy of migration figures, largely because of the hard-to-analyse internal migration.

The paper’s author, senior Treasury modelling analyst Keith McLeod, said in its introduction: “Our estimate of Auckland population growth due to net migration between 2013-16 is about half the official figure.”

The paper describes new sub-national New Zealand population measures that Treasury has developed using integrated administrative data. They’re in an interactive online form in Treasury’s Insights tool.

The paper doesn’t accuse others of getting things wrong – and Treasury says of its own work that it can’t be trusted yet. It’s more a case of additional information giving a more accurate picture of population movements.

Mr McLeod: “New Zealand has a robust system of population estimates, and the data described in this paper has the potential to complement this system. Nevertheless, the results are exploratory in nature, and further work is required to better understand the strengths & limitations of the data. The findings are not official statistics and should be treated with caution.

“A particular strength of the analysis outlined here is the ability to measure & describe patterns of internal migration within New Zealand, something that has previously been largely reliant on the 5-yearly census.

“The analysis not only describes patterns of internal migration, but sets these alongside other key dimensions of population change: ageing, natural increase & international migration.”

Estimates aren’t immediately available for release, and results for a particular calendar year are only likely to be able to be produced 9 or more months after the end of that year.

The Auckland question

On the question of Auckland’s growth, the paper says: “Auckland, New Zealand’s largest city, has experienced year-on-year growth since 2008. This has been driven largely by migration from overseas, with foreign migrants more than offsetting net losses of New Zealanders moving away.

“Since 2012, increasing numbers of people have been leaving Auckland to move to other areas, especially Tauranga, Waikato District, Whangarei & the Far North. This has slowed population increase in Auckland over that period.

“Although the case studies presented here tell a similar story to official population estimates, there are some differences, particularly in Auckland, where our estimates show much lower population growth in recent years.

“Our estimate of Auckland population growth due to net migration between 2013-16 is about half the official figure.

“More work is required to better understand these differences. The difference could derive from the difficulty in determining people’s location of residence after their arrival in New Zealand in either or both of the sources, or may relate to the different residence definitions adopted.”

  • For me, this research is very welcome because information on internal migration has long appeared to be lacking.

Treasury Insights analytical paper, 18 April 2018: Where we come from, where we go – describing population change in NZ

Attribution: Treasury Insights.

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Migrant net inflow slips below 69,000

New Zealand’s net inflow of migrants slipped below 69,000/year in February, for the first time since May 2016.

The pattern flowed through to Auckland, where arrivals were down & exits up slightly in February, resulting in the net inflow to the city falling just below 35,000.

The exit rate of NZ citizens for February was slim (a net outflow of 217) and was also small for the year (down from nearly 1700 the previous year to 813), but the net inflow of non-citizens also fell for the year, by 3300, to 69,756.

The departure rate of NZ citizens to Australia was again low for the month, a net outflow of 634, but up by 640 for the year to a net outflow of 4959, indicating that our western neighbour still hasn’t got its economic act together.

The figures (previous February or year to February in brackets):

February traffic: arrivals 12,761 (13,793), exits 5356 (5184), net inflow 7405 (8609)
February year: arrivals 130,966 (128,816), exits 62,023 (57,483), net inflow 68,943 (71,333)
Net trans-Tasman flows: February net outflow 188 (329), year 179 net inflow (1034)
NZ citizen net outflows: February 217 (397), year 813 (1687)
Non-citizen net inflows: February 7622 (9006), year 69,756 (73,020)
Auckland arrivals: February 5473 (6507), year 58,606 (57,156)
Auckland net inflow: February 3404 (4543), year 34,928 (35,313)

That non-citizen net inflow is the big change. Stats NZ said migrant departures for Asia were up 31% over the year to 11,700, while the overall net gain of migrants from Asia was 30,500 for the year.

Attribution: Stats NZ.

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Over half net migrant inflow is into Auckland as destination

New Zealand’s migrant inflow rose slightly in January, has fallen by 1200 over 12 months but is still running at just above 70,000/year.

Statistics NZ’s monthly tally showed arrivals in January totalled 14,889 (14,457 in January last year), exits 6312 (6011) for a net inflow of 8577 (8446).

For the January year, arrivals were 131,998 (128,290), exits 61.851 (56,985) for a net inflow of 70,147 (71,305).

From a high point of 72,402 last August, the net inflow fell to 70,016 in the December year.

The net flow of migrants across the Tasman has been negative (ie, to Australia) this January & last, and the annual net flow was only slightly – by 38 – positive in this direction.

The net outflow for the month rose from 246 last year to 317, and the annual net flow to New Zealand fell from 1264 last January to 38 this January.

The annual flow of migrants from both China & India dipped, but the numbers from the Philippines, South Africa & the UK rose. The annual flow from China was 9308 (10,197 the previous 12 months), India 6707 (8560), the Philippines 4775 (4580), South Africa 4946 (4533) & the UK 6136 (5981).

Non-citizen arrivals continue to comfortably exceed exits – 8750 versus 2570 for a net inflow of 6180 for the month, but 30 more departures than arrivals by NZ citizens (2730 versus 2700).

The flow into Auckland as a destination remained high – 6833 for the month (6871 in January last year, 5962 2 years ago) – while departures remained low at 2382 (2335). The net inflow was down slightly for the month at 4451 (4536) but up for the year at 36,067 (34,660).

The number of Indians arriving on student visas continued to decline, to 5811 for the last 12 months (6457 the previous year and 10,558 2 years ago). Chinese arriving on student visas have also fallen in the last 12 months, to 5263, after rising from 5497 to 5612 in the previous 12 months.

Outcomes-based migration measurement updated

Stats NZ updated its outcomes-based measure of migration – the 12/16-month rule – last week, taking the series forward to September 2016.

It was introduced in May 2017 and identifies an individual’s migrant status when Stats NZ observes their travel history, and their length of stay in New Zealand, after a 16-month follow-up period.

Population insights senior manager Peter Dolan said: “It differs from the traditional method of classifying permanent & long-term migrants (PLT) that we base on their stated intention on arrival & departure cards.

“The 12/16-month rule showed net migration in the September 2016 year was 64,500, compared with 70,000 as defined by the PLT migration measure. September 2016 is the most recent available period for outcomes-based migration, due to the 17-month lag to produce migration figures by the 12/16-month rule.

“Migrant statistics that rely on passengers’ stated intentions are affected by uncertainty around people’s assumptions about how long they will be in New Zealand.

“Using an outcomes-based measure of defining migrants gives us a clearer picture of the actual migration patterns in New Zealand, and aligns with the approach taken in Australia.”

For more information on the 12/16-month rule, see:
Defining migrants using travel histories and the ’12/16-month rule’
Outcomes versus intentions: Measuring migration based on travel histories

Attribution: Stats NZ releases & tables.

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Migrant inflow holds above 70,000/year, Auckland influx rises

The net annual migrant inflow continued to slide in December but stayed just above 70,000.

From a high point of 72,402 last August, the net inflow fell to 70,016 in the December year (70,588 in the December 2016 year).

In 2012 it was negative – a net outflow of 1165.

Immigrant numbers rose slightly in December to 10,710 (10,687 a year earlier), but exits rose slightly more to 6049 (5688) for a net inflow in December of 4661 (4999).

For the year, immigrant numbers rose to 131,566 (127,305), emigrant numbers rose more, to 61,550 (56,717).

Arrivals from Australia were steady for the month at 2923 (2909), down for the year at 24,950 (25,783). Departures to Australia were 2533 (2608) for the month, 24,841 (24, 220) for the year. Net, arrivals outnumbered exits for the month by 390 (301), and for the year by 109 (1563).

The inflow into Auckland was 4303 (4384) for the month, 59,678 (55,322) for the year. Net, that influx reduced to 2010 (2152) for the month, but was 36,152 (33,916) for the year.

In practical terms, that net annual inflow equates to a demand for about 12,560 homes in Auckland in 2017, at 2.7 residents/household. Consents for new homes in Auckland in 2017 totalled 10,867 – short of demand by 1700, ignoring natural population increase.

Attribution: Stats NZ tables & release.

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Migrant inflow slips to exact figure of a year ago

New Zealand’s net migrant inflow is back exactly where it was a year ago after the number of long-term migrants both in & out of the country changed by the same figure, 4886.

The identical rise in arrivals & fall in departures in the last 12 months left the net inflow at 70,354 for both the 2016 & 2017 November years.

The net inflow hit 72,402 in the July 2017 year and has been subsiding gradually since then.

Arrivals in November totalled 6751, down by 340 from a year earlier.

Arrivals from Australia slipped by 1000 over the year to 24,936 while exits to Australia rose by 830 to 24,916 – a net gain of 20 over the year, down from a net gain of 1830 in the previous 12 months.

For the last 4 years, there’s been a net gain of NZ citizens returning in November (745 this November, up from 637 a year ago), and the annual tallies have gone close to more Kiwis returning than leaving. From a net exit rate of 39,000 in the 12 months to November 2012, the net exit rate of Kiwis tailed off to just under 24,000 in the November 2013 year, about 8400 in 2014, 1899 in 2016 & 1309 in the last months.

Non-citizen net immigration climbed from about 31,300 in 2010 to 72,253 in the November 2016 year, but has declined to 71,663 in the latest 12 months. Immigrant numbers continued to climb (up 4300 over the year to 99,425), but exits climbed slightly more (up by just under 5000 to 27,762).

Migrants stating Auckland as their destination continued upward – 4902 (4843 last year) for the month, 59,759 (54,765) for the year. The net inflow to Auckland fell slightly for the month to 3253 (3316) but was still ahead over 12 months at 36,294 (33,536).

Attribution: Statistics NZ tables.

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Australian net migrant inflow jumps 27%

The Australian Bureau of Statistics said yesterday the country increased its net inflow of migrants by 27% in the June year to 245,400.

The net inflow into New South Wales was up 31% to 98,600, and into Victoria was up 23% to 86,900.

Bureau demography director Beidar Cho said Australia’s population grew by 388,100 people (1.6%) to reach 24.6 million.

Australian Bureau of Statistics, June 2017 quarter demographic statistics

Attribution: ABS release.

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Exiting Kiwi number shrinks again, but annual net migrant inflow slips

The net emigration rate of New Zealand citizens shrank by another 470 in the year to September, while the net immigration rate of non-citizens rose by 560.

For the last 3 Septembers, returning Kiwis have outnumbered those leaving long-term – from 44 2 years ago to 524, then 351. For the September year, departing Kiwis numbered 52-62,000 in 2011-13, but have been below 40,000/year for the last 4 years, down to 33,348 last year and rising slightly this year to 33,656.

The result has been a decline in the net outflow of Kiwis from almost 40,000/year 5 years ago to just below 10,000 3 years ago, and continuing steadily downward to 2108 last year, 1637 this year.

On the non-citizen side of the ledger, the net inflow dipped this September to 6467 (7380 a year earlier).

The number of immigrants stopping in Auckland in September fell slightly to 5283 (5365), while departures rose to 1734 (1424). For the year, arrivals in Auckland were up by nearly 6000 and departures also rose, by 2000, for a net gain of 36,404 (32,768).

The bald statistics:

Net migrant inflow September: 6818 (7904 in September last year)
Net migrant inflow September year: 70,986 (69,954 for the previous 12 months; 72,402 in the 12 months to this July, 72,072 to August)
Migrants into Auckland in September: 5283 (5365)
Migrants into Auckland in September year: 59,618 (53,844)
Net Auckland inflow in September: 3549 (3941)
Net Auckland inflow in September year: 36,404 (32,768)
Net outflow to Australia in September: 155 (447)
Net outflow to Australia in September year: 66 inflow (1965 outflow).

Earlier story:
22 September 2017: An immigration pause – or a turning point?

Attribution: Statistics NZ.

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Reserve Bank plays unchanged game, and Peters unimpressed

The Reserve Bank left the official cashrate unchanged at 1.75% yesterday.

The bank’s acting governor, Grant Spencer, said: ‘”Monetary policy will remain accommodative for a considerable period. Numerous uncertainties remain and policy may need to adjust accordingly.”

This nudging along of economic policy doesn’t sit well with the man with the most influential say on future directions, NZ First leader Winston Peters.

Winston Peters.

While voters who believe we’re still in the era of first-past-the-post elections have been busily writing letters to editors explaining that, as National got most votes, it therefore won and should govern, Mr Peters has issued a few statements indicating likely shifts in economic direction:

  • He said the decision to hold the official cashrate at 1.75% “maintains the tone of complacency on New Zealand’s economic outlook”
  • He criticised National for taxing the NZ Superannuation Fund and not making taxpayer contributions for 10 years, and
  • 2 days before the election, he issued a statement affirming his view that the immigration level was too high, criticising the National government “for deluding the public these migrants are skilled”.

Those who see Mr Peters as a negative poser should find his advocacy for change refreshing, because all his policies of the last week have been about improving economic performance.

He issued succinct statements on what the Super Fund ought to be doing, how the Government ought to be supporting it and how international markets bloated with ultra-cheap money are riding for a fall.

Crucially, Mr Peters might change the view commonly held by Western central bankers, including New Zealand’s, that the policy of printing money to stimulate economies is flawed.

But first the Reserve Bank view, from Mr Spencer:

Grant Spencer.

“Global economic growth has continued to improve in recent quarters. However, inflation & wage outcomes remain subdued across the advanced economies and challenges remain with ongoing surplus capacity. Bond yields are low, credit spreads have narrowed and equity prices are near record levels. Monetary policy is expected to remain stimulatory in the advanced economies, but less so going forward.

“The trade-weighted exchange rate has eased slightly since the August Reserve Bank monetary policy statement. A lower $NZ would help to increase tradables inflation and deliver more balanced growth.

“GDP in the June quarter grew in line with expectations, following relative weakness in the previous 2 quarters. While exports recovered, construction was weaker than expected. Growth is projected to maintain its current pace going forward, supported by accommodative monetary policy, population growth, elevated terms of trade and fiscal stimulus.

“House price inflation continues to moderate due to loan:value ratio restrictions, affordability constraints and a tightening in credit conditions. This moderation is expected to continue, although there remains a risk of resurgence in prices given population growth & resource constraints in the construction sector.

“Annual CPI inflation eased in the June quarter, but remains within the target range. Headline inflation is likely to decline in coming quarters, reflecting volatility in tradables inflation. Non-tradables inflation remains moderate but is expected to increase gradually as capacity pressure increases, bringing headline inflation to the midpoint of the target range over the medium term. Longer-term inflation expectations remain well anchored at around 2%.

“Monetary policy will remain accommodative for a considerable period. Numerous uncertainties remain and policy may need to adjust accordingly.”

If you think those closing words are familiar, you’re right: they’re identical to the bank’s closing paragraph in its March statement.

Peters on Reserve Bank

Mr Peters saw less of the smoothing, more a likelihood of troubled times internationally: “Beneath the veneer of stability, large risks are lurking in the global economy. The prolonged era of ultra-cheap money has created expectations that this unprecedented period will continue forever. Fed by cheap money, share & property markets are at record levels and have a long way to fall. In particular, the US share market has had an amazing run with barely a hiccup. In China, debt levels are staggering.

“Irrational exuberance rules. It is impossible to predict when, but something will go wrong and New Zealand should be prepared.”

On the Super Fund

The NZ Super Fund reported a 20.7% return for the year on Wednesday, but Mr Peters went behind that performance to look at a gigantic loss brought about by 2 National acts: “National should apologise to New Zealanders for robbing their NZ Super nest egg,” he said.

“Taxing the NZ Superannuation Fund, and not making taxpayer contributions for 10 years is a serious economic loser.

“The magnificent 20.7% return achieved by the fund in the year to 30 June will help meet future demand for NZ Super, but the nest egg could have been so much bigger if the National government had kept its hands off it.

“In 2015, then Finance Minister Bill English said: ‘Over time, along with the other funds, it will become a more & more significant part of the economy’. That’s ironic given he started taxing it in 2014.

“NZ First would encourage the fund’s managers to invest in infrastructure in New Zealand so it works for New Zealand’s long-term interests.”

On immigration

As for the high net immigration level – 73,500 in the year to August – Mr Peters said it would ensure housing, health services & infrastructure would continue at bursting point.

“The Government deludes the public these migrants are skilled – it’s a myth, most of them are unskilled & drawn to this country in many cases by the generosity of our social services.

“Few countries in the world are as generous, or soft, as we are. Where are the new hospitals, the extra doctors & nurses, the new schools & general infrastructure to cope with all these people?

“New Zealanders find it harder to get a job with the influx from overseas. The fact is, every year we are creating a city the size of Rotorua and the country cannot handle it. Even the Prime Minister [Bill English, in a reference 2 days before the election] admits they can’t keep up with population growth.”

Earlier stories:
22 September 2017: An immigration pause – or a turning point?
6 September 2017: Updated: Reserve Bank sublets to help pay the rent
5 July 2017: Super fund explains tilting strategy
9 June 2017: Reserve Bank raises question of new debt:income loan limits
23 March 2017: Housing supply the main concern as Reserve Bank holds cashrate
30 September 2014: Super guardians pose some investment thoughts
29 September 2008: NZ Super Fund has $2 billion turnaround to $880 million loss

Attribution: Bank & Peters releases.

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