6 Mar 2012

Number of people moving to NZ lowest for 7 years

6:46 pm on 6 March 2012

The number of people moving to New Zealand has fallen to its lowest level since September 2005 as the prospect of work for new migrants remains weak.

Long term departures continue to outnumber arrivals with the net loss of 3,134 for the year to January the largest for more than 11 years, Statistics New Zealand figures show.

The monthly exodus to Australia continues with the net loss of 38,100 people for the year the highest on record.

ASB chief economist Nick Tuffley expects the net outflow of migrants to gradually lessen, but at the same time, New Zealand's economic recovery is modest and job prospects are not compelling for would-be migrants.

Factors that deter people moving to New Zealand include the challenge of selling property in a depressed market, and, for those who still have a job, it is easier to remain than face uncertainty.

Meanwhile, more than 1 million international visitors arrived or departed New Zealand in January - the highest monthly number on record.

Mr Tuffley says overall visitor numbers have recovered to pre-Christchurch earthquake levels but there is a change in the mix.

Short term visitor arrivals from Asia are strong, particularly China where the growth is "incredibly strong."

He says that is a trend likely to continue and help make up for the fact that traditional markets such as Europe and the US have relatively struggling economies and weak currencies relative to the New Zealand dollar.