New Zealand's inbound net migration rose to a 10-year high in January as fewer people quit the country to cross the Tasman and the number of new migrants continued to gain.
The country gained a seasonally adjusted 3,100 net new migrants in January, the most since May 2003, and up from 2,900 in December, according to Statistics New Zealand. Seasonally adjusted, there was an outflow of about 2,640 people to Australia, while about 8,210 new migrants arrived in New Zealand.
On an annual basis, New Zealand gained about 26,700 migrants, compared to a largely flat level a year earlier. In the year, there was as net loss of 17,400 people to Australia, down from 37,900 a year earlier, with net gains led by migrants from the UK at about 6,000, China with 5,700, India at 5,600, the Philippines at 2,400 and Germany at 2,300.
Auckland attracted the biggest gain in net migration at 12,300, followed by Canterbury with 4,800, then Otago at 600 and Wellington at 300. Auckland and Wellington's net gains were largely in professionals, while Canterbury attracted technicians and trades workers and Otago community and personal service workers, Statistics NZ said.
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Inbound migration is seen as one of the factors driving New Zealand's accelerating economic momentum as it fuels a bubbling property market, and the Reserve Bank has cited it as influencing its thinking as it prepares to embark on hiking interest rates to head off future inflation.
Strong migration will add a plentiful supply of workers, keeping labour market strains low. However, migrant inflows will put further pressure on the housing market.
Today's report also showed a 12 per cent increase in the number of short-term arrivals to 292,400 in January from the same month a year earlier, for an annual gain of 7.5 per cent to 2.75 million. The monthly gain was underpinned by a 60 per cent surge in the number of Chinese visitors to 30,100 and an almost doubling of people from Hong Kong to 3,100 coinciding with the Chinese New Year.
The increase in Chinese visitors was the first gain since September 2013 after new Chinese travel regulations in October led to a drop-off in tourist numbers.