New Zealand's annual net migration rose to a record in September, beating government forecasts, as the inflow was spurred by student arrivals from India and Kiwis returning home from Australia.
The country gained a net 45,400 migrants in the year ended September 30, the biggest ever gain, according to Statistics New Zealand. Annual arrivals rose to 105,500, a record for a September year, while departures fell 21 per cent from the previous year to 60,100. Meanwhile, the net loss of 6000 people to Australia was down from 25,300 for the same period a year earlier.
In August, the Treasury revised its forecast for net migration to peak at 42,500 in September, from a previous 38,100, while the Reserve Bank thinks strong migration will add 50,000 people to the labour force over the next two years.
The central bank has been surprised by the "muted impact" record inflows have had on house price inflation so far, which it says hasn't lead to as big a gain in property prices as in the past. This may be down to the composition of the migration flows, which have been characterised by fewer New Zealanders leaving for Australia as well as more returning from across the Tasman, and younger people coming on temporary working visas.
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Today's figures show people arriving from India jumped 60 per cent in the year to 10,287, overtaking China as the third-largest source of long-term arrivals. Australia remained the biggest source, with a 25 per cent increase in the year to 22,596 people arriving, although that figure includes locals returning home, Statistics NZ said. The United Kingdom is the second-largest source, although arrivals fell 3.4 per cent to 13,686 long-term arrivals in the year.
In the month, New Zealand gained a seasonally adjusted 4700 net migrants in September, matching August's record inflow. There was a net loss of 68 people to Australia in the month, from a net outflow of 71 people in August, well below the peak monthly net loss of 4300 migrants across the Tasman in February 2001.
The number of short-term arrivals rose 1 per cent to 193,000 in September from the same month a year earlier, and was the second-highest ever for a September month, eclipsed only by the same month in 2011 during the Rugby World Cup. On an annual basis, visitor arrivals rose 5 per cent to 2.8 million from a year earlier, boosted by tourists from Australia, the US and Germany.
New Zealanders heading off on short overseas trips rose 4 per cent to 219,700 in the month from a year earlier and was the highest ever for a September month, with more trips to Australia, Indonesia and Fiji recorded, Statistics NZ said. Annually, short term departures rose 3 per cent to 2.24 million in the year.