14 Apr 2011

More workers likely to head to Australia - economist

7:20 am on 14 April 2011

An economist is expecting February's devastating quake to send more workers for Australia, and prompt visitors to stay away.

Statistics New Zealand figures show visitor arrivals edged up 0.2%in February, boosted by friends and relatives of people affected by the Christchurch quake.

On a seasonally-adjusted basis, visitor numbers fell 4%, however, and ASB economist Chris Tennent-Brown says visitor arrivals could remain over the months ahead.

Mr Tennent Brown says it may take a few years for visitor arrivals to Christchurch to return to pre-quake levels.

Meanwhile, a net 470 people migrated or returned to New Zealand in February, the smallest monthly gain in nine months.

For the year, 8,249 people moved here long term, compared with more 21,5000 a year ago.

Mr Tennent-Brown says departures are 13% higher than last year, and he expects that trend to continue, as people continue to be attracted by the strong labour market in Australia.

He says people whose jobs were disrupted by the Canterbury earthquakes may also be looking across the Tasman for work.