Immigration reaches five year high in New Zealand, official figures show

by Ray Clancy on March 3, 2010

Annual immigration growth in New Zealand has increased to its highest level in more than five years, new figures show.

The number of permanent migrant arrivals exceeded departures by 22,588 in the 12 months ending in January, according to data from Statistics New Zealand. It is up from 21,253 in the 12 months through to December 2009 and is the highest since May 2004.

According to experts although more people want to move to New Zealand there are also fewer who want to leave. The country is seen as recovering well from the global economic downturn due to higher consumer spending and an increased demand for housing.

Indeed the figures show that the surge in net immigration has been boosted by fewer New Zealanders heading abroad. About 39,700 citizens left in the year ending in January, down from about a third from the year earlier, the figures also show.

The number of New Zealanders heading to Australia fell by 40%. Overall permanent departures fell 24% and arrivals declined 2.5%.

‘Net migration remains a critical leg of support for the economic cycle,’ said Philip Borkin, an economist at Goldman Sachs JBWere in Auckland. ‘Looking forward, the key to watch is departures to Australia,’ he added.

Australia has weathered the economic crisis well and judged to have come out of the troubled financial situation much better than any other non emerging nation. Short term visitor arrivals fell 2.4%, seasonally adjusted, from December, the figures from the agency also show. But overall the underlying trend in visitor arrivals is increasing and from a year earlier, unadjusted arrivals rose 5.6%, which may buoy a tourism industry that makes up 10% of the economy.

Promotion of New Zealand as a destination for Australian travellers has helped arrivals recover after the global recession cut international air travel last year, reducing tourist visits from Asia and Europe.

Total arrivals rose 0.9% in the year ending in January from a year earlier as a 12% gain in Australian tourists countered slumps in visitors from the UK, Japan and South Korea. Excluding Australia, visitors fell 6.5%. Annual arrivals from Japan slumped 20%.

The organisation also predicts that the population of Auckland is likely to reach almost two million by 2031.

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