There was a record net migration loss of 44,800 New Zealand citizens in the September 2023 year as young Kiwis headed off on their OE in the wake of the pandemic border closures.
This net migration loss was made up of 26,400 migrant arrivals and 71,200 migrant departures, provisional estimates released by Stats NZ show.
“Migrant departures of New Zealand citizens are just under record levels,” population indicators manager Tehseen Islam said. “Based on the latest estimates available, just over half of these departures went to Australia.”
The previous record net migration loss of New Zealand citizens was 44,400 in the February 2012 year.
Migrants aged 18 to 30 accounted for 39 per cent (27,800) of the 71,200 migrant departures of New Zealand citizens in the September 2023 year.
There was a record overall net migration gain of 118,900 in the September 2023 year. This was driven by a record net migration gain of 163,600 non-New Zealand citizens, mainly from India, the Philippines, China, Fiji and South Africa.
This follows a progressive relaxation of Covid-19 border restrictions from early 2022, as well as changes to immigration settings.
Migrants aged 18 to 44 made up 67 per cent (142,100) of the 210,600 migrant arrivals of non-New Zealand citizens in the September 2023 year.
Provisional estimates for the year ended September 2023 compared with the year ended September 2022 were:
- Migrant arrivals: 237,100 (± 2,200), up 183 per cent.
- Migrant departures: 118,200 (± 1,400), up 33 per cent.
- Annual net migration: gain of 118,900 (± 2,500), compared with a net loss of 5,300 (± 100)
The 237,100 migrant arrivals, 118,200 migrant departures, and net migration gain of 118,900 in the September 2023 year are the highest on record for an annual period.
That is another annual record for overall net migration gain, after the previous record gain of 110,000 migrants in the year to August 31.
Before the 2023 record levels, the previous annual records for migrant arrivals and total net migration gain, respectively, were 184,900 and 91,700, both in the March 2020 year.
The previous annual record for migrant departures was 117,400 in the February 2012 year.
The number of migrant arrivals and migrant departures for the September 2023 year are both above the pre-Covid average (September years 2002-2019) of 120,200 and 91,800, respectively.
There have now been 18 consecutive months of net migration gains of non-New Zealand citizens from April 2022, amounting to 185,700, according to Stats NZ.
This net migration gain compares with a net migration loss of 32,300 non-New Zealand citizens in the 24 months from April 2020 to March 2022, when Covid-19-related border and travel restrictions were in place.
There have been 23 consecutive months of net migration losses of New Zealand citizens to September 2023, amounting to 65,400. This follows 27 months of mainly net migration gains of New Zealand citizens, amounting to 32,100.
Westpac senior economist Darren Gibbs noted the huge migrant inflow seemed to be helping to alleviate tightness in the labour market while also underpinning a moderate lift in house sales, prices and especially rents.
“To date, the broader impact on domestic demand appears modest – or at least insufficient to offset the downtrend in resident spending – as reflected in today’s very weak consumer spending report for October,” he said. “How these competing influences on the economy and inflation continue to play out will have a bearing on the required level of interest rates over the year ahead.”
Westpac sees the net migration gains continuing to rise for some months.
“If the recent pattern of revisions continues, the annual inflow is likely to rise further for a few months yet – perhaps into the 125,000 to 130,000 range – even if monthly inflow numbers print close to year-earlier levels. Given the increasing size of this flow, understanding the economic impact has become more important than ever,” Gibbs said.