21 Aug 2014

Migration remains near all-time highs

4:27 pm on 21 August 2014

The number of people moving to New Zealand or staying long term has continued to hover near all-time highs.

New Zealand gained 4500 more permanent residents in July, the second-highest monthly increase on record. That translated into a net gain of 41,000 migrants in the year ended July, about four times as many as the year earlier and the highest level in 11 years.

New Zealand lost a net 7300 people to Australia over the year, down on the 29,200 in the previous year. Most of the migrants to and from Australia were New Zealanders.

Westpac Bank senior economist Felix Delbruck said the near-record increase in the number of new residents was likely to continue, given ongoing weakness in Australia's labour market.

"We think this could go further. The major driver of this migration boom has been weak labour market conditions in Australia, so that's made it less attractive for New Zealanders to move to Australia," Mr Delbruck said.

"It's made it more attractive for New Zealanders to come back and also for Australians to move to New Zealand."

Higher immigration should help alleviate skill shortages, although it was also expected to put more pressure on housing markets in Auckland and Christchurch, an analyst said.

Meanwhile, the number of people visiting New Zealand continues to rise, with a record-breaking July where nearly 200,000 people entered the country - the largest-ever for that month.

Total international visitor arrivals for the year ending July are up 5.8 percent on the previous year.

Tourism New Zealand chief executive Kevin Bowler said there was an increase in people on flights from Japan, and that Japan was New Zealand's fifth-largest source of visitors.

Most visitors continue to come from Australia, with a 6.1 percent increase in travellers for the year to July.

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