NZ immigration surges to a five year high amid expectations of economic recovery, report suggests

by Ray Clancy on February 11, 2010

New Zealand’s annual immigration growth accelerated to the highest level in more than five years in December, adding to signs consumer spending and demand for property may speed the economy’s recovery from a recession.

The number of permanent migrant arrivals exceeded departures by 21,253 in 2009, according to figures from Statistics New Zealand, That’s up from 20,021 in the 12 months to November and is the most ever since June 2004.

Reserve Bank Governor Alan Bollard said last week that the economy is recovering in line with his forecasts and he predicts that rising house prices and spending would help gross domestic product increase 3.1% this year.

Last year’s surge in net immigration has been boosted by fewer New Zealanders heading abroad. About 41,600 citizens left last year, the lowest calendar year tally since 2003 and 19,160 fewer than in 2008, the statistics agency report also showed.

Overall permanent departures fell 22% in 2009, while arrivals were down 1.2%. Analysts monitor a monthly, seasonally adjusted series to determine the pace of immigration. In December, a net 1,720 migrants arrived compared with 1,730 in November.

Tourist arrivals also surged in December, which may buoy spending in an industry that makes up about 10% of the New Zealand economy.

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