Migration is slowing but we have to build for the new Kiwis

Wednesday May 02, 2018 Kel Sanderson

In the five years 2014 to 2018 net inflow of intending migrants will have totalled 320,000.  If we’d planned that we would have built before they came.  Now we’re playing catch-up.  Luckily the inflow is slowing.


Cause of slowing migrant flows


The migrant arrivals continue in the range they’ve been in since 2014 of 120,000 to 130,000 per year and the departures similarly have been fairly steady since 2014 at about 60,000 per year.


The momentum has been working out of the growth in net inflows from Australia since early 2014, and the flows from Asia since early 2015.  After the Brexit, US election and flows from South Africa, the growth in net flows from ‘Other’ world regions are now starting to taper off. We have allowed those changes to continue as shown on the graph.  This implies that for calendar 2018, the net inflow will be about 60,000 people.  At least the flow has stopped accelerating!


Lead infrastructure investments in Kiwi lifestyle are lagging


The rationale of strategic planning of lead infrastructure investments like public transport, social services and increased urban density, is often stated as “Build and they will come”.


Well in the five years 2014 to 2018, about 320,000 intending migrants (net) are already here.  I say ‘intending’ because these numbers come from those ticking the ‘Permanent and Long Term migrant’ box on their arrival or departure cards. The actual numbers staying may be a little different, but in any case it is certainly time to start building, including re-building the emerging leaky schools, hospitals and re-developing some of the shonky repairs and red-zoned parts of Christchurch.  Are we clear of the fallout from de-regulated building practices? 


On the positive side we appear to be encouraging more young people across the board to become tradies.  And actually the stack of recent migrants probably has a fair number of potential recruits to the trades.  My rough estimate from the changes in population cohorts is that about 70 percent of the net migrant flows are in the age groups 20 to 39 years.  That could be as many as over 200,000 people.  Of course they are in the ‘household-forming’ stage and so they will be helping to fuel demands for dwellings, as well as infrastructure.

We’d better get building!