New Zealand's net migration numbers remained in negative territory for the year to July, although higher arrivals in the past month offset the continued rise in departures.
Still, the data from StatsNZ offered no respite for businesses worried about the extremely tight labour market.
On an annual basis New Zealand saw migrant arrivals of 52,100, down 16 per cent on a year earlier, Stats NZ said.
Migrant departures were 64,500, down 7 per cent
The provisional net migration loss of 12,400 in the year ended July 2022 was made up of net losses of 8300 New Zealand citizens and 4100 non-New Zealand citizens.
By comparison, the provisional net migration loss of 7600 in the year ended July 2021 was driven by a net loss of 19,700 non-New Zealand citizens partly offset by a net gain of 12,100 New Zealand citizens, Stats NZ said.
The comparisons between the July 2022 and 2021 months and years use the latest provisional estimates for each period.
The provisional estimates have 95 per cent confidence intervals (±) beside them – the wider the interval, the greater the uncertainty about the estimate. However, these intervals reflect the model uncertainty, not the extent of future revisions to provisional data.
Migration estimates in more recent months have greater uncertainty and are therefore subject to larger revisions than estimates for earlier periods.
Prior to the pandemic New Zealand saw several years of record net migration gains - with a peak of 65,000 in the year to July 2016.
After the pandemic closed borders in early 2020 New Zealand saw a record wave of arrivals as kiwis returned home.
In that wave the net migration peaked at nearly 85,000 in the year to June 2020.
Numbers have dwindled steadily since then.
Lack of population growth has both inflationary and deflationary effects on the economy.
However on balance, it is considered to be an inflationary factor right now because the acute shortage of workers is putting upward pressure on labour costs.
Economists expect the negative net migration rate will also weigh on the property market.
In a report last month Kiwibank forecast New Zealand would no longer be suffering a housing shortage by mid-2023.
Housing demand had slowed as population growth hit its lowest rate since the 1980s.
"Supply is catching up in part because Covid restrictions at the border have seen population growth slow to a trickle," Kiwibank senior economist Jeremy Couchman said.