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The annual net migration gain reached its highest figure in five years, as the global financial crisis caused a fall off in the number of people leaving.

Figures published today by Statistics New Zealand (SNZ) show the net migration gain at 18,600 for the year to October, the highest annual figure since August 2004.

The 86,700 permanent and long-term (PLT) arrivals last month was down just 700 or 1 per cent from a year earlier, while the 68,100 PLT departures was down 14,900 or 18 per cent.

ASB economist Jane Turner said the pick-up in population growth has been fuelling demand for housing over the past 6 months.

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