A business group says New Zealand needs to do more to attract skilled immigrants at a time when the economy needs them most.
Statistics New Zealand figures show migration is the lowest it has been since the recession first started to bite in November 2008.
In the last year, 15,200 more people departed permanently for Australia than arrived, Statistics New Zealand figures show.
Business New Zealand chief executive Phil O'Reilly says many sectors rely on skilled workers from overseas, but New Zealand is competing with Australia and other countries for skilled migrants and needs to offer better jobs and higher wages.
The architect of website move2nz.com, Mike Bell, says there's no shortage of would-be immigrants, but there is a lack of clarity about where the skill shortages are.
He says, for instance, it's increasingly difficult to get work permits for skilled chefs despite the fact restaurants can't find New Zealanders to apply.
Mr Bell also says Immigration New Zealand has cut the number of applications it accepts by 30% this year, which he presumes is a reaction to unemployment numbers in this country.