22 Sep 2009

Surge in immigration expected to create more jobs

7:51 pm on 22 September 2009

The retail and construction industries are forecasting more jobs as a result of a surge in immigration.

New figures show New Zealand gained an extra 15,600 people in the year to the end of August, compared with just 5,000 for the previous year.

The figure reflects a drop in the number of people heading to Australia.

Retailers say the rise is helping improve a bleak year for them, and the building industry says it's helping lift the sector out of the doldrums.

The chief executive of the Newmarket Business Association in Auckland, Cameron Brewer, says the year has been so bad that some retailers are beginning their Christmas marketing early to help promote sales.

But rising immigration is contributing to improved sales, he says, with listed retail companies such as Briscoes and the Warehouse posting better than expected results.

Building Industry Federation chief executive Bruce Kohn says that a level of immigration like this usually means more building consents, which is good for the industry.

Warwick Quinn, chief executive of the Master Builders Association, says consents hit a low of 14,000 in June, but builders are once again looking at hiring staff.

However, there is a warning that the benefits of increased immigration may be short-lived.

ANZ Bank senior economist Khoon Goh says the gains could quickly be reversed if New Zealanders were again lured overseas by an improving global economy.