SOUTHERN MAN IMMIGRATION BLOG

Migration Hits 11 Year High

April 25, 2014
Iain MacLeod

Net migration figures rose to an eleven year high in the year ending March 2014.

Around 32,000 more people arrived ‘permanently’ than left the country.

By definition a person who indicates when on arrival at an airport they ‘intend’ staying for 12 months or more, irrespective of whether they actually do, is deemed a permanent arrival. Likewise anyone who indicates on their way out of the country they intend leaving for more than 12 months is deemed to be a permanent departure.

So while the numbers of true long terms migrants is not accurate as intentions might change the trends are very clear – New Zealand continues to be an attractive destination for ex-pats, Australians and a host of other nationalities.

There were principally two reasons for this significant jump in long term arrivals – and the granting of more resident visas to more migrants was not one.

Reflecting a divergence in economic prosperity and growth between the two economies of Australia and New Zealand, significantly fewer New Zealanders took advantage of the open labour market border with our Aussie neighbours and moved there for work while at the same time thousands have been returning home as economic prospects here prove better. Australians continue to outstrip all other nationalities moving here and during the past 12 months around 10,000 Australian citizens moved to New Zealand.

The reasons for this could not be better illustrated than by comparing the number of new jobs created in both countries. Despite being eight times larger in terms of GDP the New Zealand economy has created as many jobs in the past 12 months as has Australia – a truly stunning result.

At the same time the NZ Government continues to fail to live up to its own skilled migrant quotas and they are on track again this immigration year (ending 30 June) to be around 9,000 migrants short of what they say publicly they want.

They need to be careful.

While it is great that these New Zealanders are returning home many are not highly skilled. Australians coming over for work it is reasonable to assume probably are (or maybe they are just thirsty – we don’t often run out of fresh water).

With every region in this country expanding in terms of local economic growth and every sector of the economy in positive territory also I can only hope that the Government recognises there is still a real need to target the skills sets industry needs to continue to prosper that are in short supply here. We cannot choose which Australians come here as all are welcome.

With this surge in net migration comes additional pressures on house prices, especially in Auckland and this has been feeding through into higher inflation. As expected this week the Reserve Bank Governor increased wholesale interest rates to 3%, meaning floating mortgages/bonds of 5.5% or thereabouts. With inflation now at the mid point of its range of 0-3% the governor has indicated he is tightening earlier than in the last economic upswing to try and ensure continued and sustainable economic growth. At 2.7% last year and an estimated 3.5% this year (and the same next year) I don’t think too many of us are going to begrudge moderately higher interest rates if the economy continues to grow as it has been the past two years.

Local unemployment continues to fall and is now around 5.6%. In Canterbury (thanks to Christchurch) it is a little over 3%.

There are those that are already calling for cuts to migrant numbers to reduce inflationary pressures caused principally by record house prices in Auckland and Christchurch which are the two cities where an estimated 80% of all new arrivals are settling (about 70% to Auckland and 10% to Christchurch). Auckland, because it is the engine room of the high skilled economy (unless you are a farmer of course) and Christchurch through the ongoing post – quakes rebuild. There was something like 5000 new jobs created in Christchurch over the past year or so and more than 150,000 nationwide.

After New Zealanders returning home or Australians sniffing fresh water, China, India and the UK continued to provide the greatest numbers of new long term arrivals. However the Philippines has continued its charge up the leader board and is now in 5th place. Philippine citizens represent the faster growing numbers of all skilled migrants (and we at Immagine are proud to report we are looking after growing numbers of these highly skilled fluent English speakers).

There is little to no chance the Government will move any time soon to meet their annual skilled migrant quotas because of the inflationary pressures being caused by house price increases. This I predict will exacerbate skills shortages given we can’t pick which Kiwis can come home or which Australians might follow them.

This should prove a positive for those potential migrants from elsewhere who are fluent in English and who are prepared to jump on planes and come over to find work.

Things are looking very rosy right now in these parts, it has to be said.

A reminder for our Hong Kong readers we have a seminar tomorrow morning. If you wish to attend or have any friends, just ask them to show up – details on the website. And for those of you in Singapore, my colleague Paul will be giving a seminar next Saturday morning.

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