Good news in the detail of migration numbers

Tuesday October 28, 2014 Kel Sanderson

The overall picture of net permanent and long-term migration is playing out very much as we have commented for some time. The main driver of the wide cyclical fluctuations in the past has been changes in the numbers of New Zealand residents leaving, particularly for Australia. Two years ago the outflow to Australia was 56,000. This outflow has dropped and is quite flat at about 30,000 a year.


Over these two years the total arrivals have increased by about 20,000 also. The net number of people who are permanent and long-term migrants tells a very simple story over the last couple of years. In the year to January 2013 the net flow was close to zero. In the year to January 2014 the net inflow had risen to 25,700. The current flow looks likely to be flattening at a peak of nearly twice that level – it is looking like a 50,000 net inflow for the year ending January 2015. This rapid increase to an historically high net flow is causing stresses in some parts of society and the economy, like the housing market. It is interesting looking at some detail.


All regions are affected


In the year to September 2012 all regions except Auckland had a net outflow of migrants. Bay of Plenty, Waikato and Wellington all lost about 2,000; Northland 1,500 and Hawke’s Bay, Manawatu- Wanganui and Canterbury Regions each lost about 1,000. Auckland had a net inflow of 4,000.


In the latest September year, all of the regions had a net inflow except Gisborne which had a net outflow of just 40 people. The largest inflow was Auckland with a net 21,000, followed by Canterbury with 5,600; and Waikato, Otago and Wellington each had inflows of 1,000 to 1,400.


Students from India boost education exports


We tend to think of long-term migration as being about households migrating. However a significant factor in the current inflow of long-term migrants is of those holding student visas. In the years to September 2012 and September 2013 there were about 15,000 migrants holding student visas. In the year to September 2014 this had jumped by more than 40% to over 21,300.


chart migrants student visas


The largest increase in this category was a doubling of those from India, so that country is now by far the largest source country for migrants with student visas. There were 7,550 from India over the latest twelve months, compared with 4,200 from China.


Europe remains the primary source of workers


People arriving on work visas increased from 24,500 in 2012 to 31,900 this year. The largest number was the 12,250 from Europe (mainly UK, France and Germany), then 5,500 from Asia, and 2,400 from Australia.


chart migrants work visas


Then there’s the Kiwis and Aussies


Kiwis and Aussies do not need a visa. Long-term migrants of Aussies and returning Kiwis totalled 25,900 in 2012 to 33,300 in 2014.


So, while there are stresses arising from the migration picture, there are also numerous positive features.