Annual migration records have been smashed, with more people arriving in New Zealand than ever in the year to July.
But the number of Kiwis departing is also on the rise and fast approaching record levels.
New Zealand had a record net migration gain of 96,200 in the July 2023 year, according to Stats NZ data released today.
The 208,400 migrant arrivals in the year to July 31 was also the highest number on record for an annual period.
”The record net migration gain in the July 2023 year follows 12 months of a fully open New Zealand border and equates to a net gain of about 19 people per 1000 population,” population indicators manager Tehseen Islam said today.
This reversed a net migration loss of 14,500 in the July 2022 year.
But the number of Kiwis departing also rose, to an annual loss of 39,400.
“The net gain of non-New Zealand citizens continues to set new records, while the net loss of New Zealand citizens is approaching the record loss of 44,400 in the February 2012 year,” Islam said.
The net migration gain in the July 2023 year was made up of a net gain of 135,600 non-New Zealand citizens and a net migration loss of 39,400 New Zealand citizens.
Citizens of India, the Philippines, China, South Africa and Fiji drove net migration gains in the July 2023 year.
The annual numbers, which reflected a big surge in the first few months of the year as borders fully opened, broke several records.
As well as the net migration record of 96,200, the July year saw provisional annual records for total migrant arrivals of 208,400.
Before the 2023 record levels, the previous record was 184,900 in the March 2020 year.
The number of migrant arrivals of non-New Zealand citizens hit a record of 182,500.
The net migration gain of non-New Zealand citizens hit 135,600.
Before the 2023 record levels, the previous record was 80,400 in the March 2020 year.
“At the current pace, we’re on track to reach an annual net inflow of 100,000, perhaps as soon as next month,” Westpac senior economist Satish Ranchhod said.
The inflow of migrants was having a big impact on the economy. “With many migrants coming over on work visas, employers have been telling us that it has become easier to find the staff and skills that they have been looking for.
“At the same time, the increase in the population is helping to support spending levels in the face of tighter financial conditions.”
Migration inflows might also be affecting the housing market, Ranchhod said.
“Rents have been rising at a solid pace, with larger increases in Auckland (where a large number of migrants traditionally settle). Recent months have also seen the housing market finding a base, and we expect that will again be reflected in tomorrow’s update from the REINZ.”
New Zealand Institute of Economic Research (NZIER) economist Peter Wilson noted that the record numbers would test the limits of the economy.
“After the election, whoever is in government is going to have to look at the capacity of the economy to absorb immigrants.
“For any economy, that is limited, at least in the short term. Immigrants aren’t units of labour, they are people. They need places to live. They get sick, have children who go to school and need transport to get to and from work.”
All that would take resources, which had a cost, he said.
“It’s important that we treat migrants as well as locals. If we don’t have the resources to do that, then we have to make a choice between having fewer migrants or diverting resources away from other areas into the things migrants need to live good lives.”
An upside for the economy was that the number of people arriving on international student visas has risen to around 28,000 – back around the highs of the decade before the pandemic.
On a monthly basis, net migration continues to decline, reverting to more normal levels after the big surge early this year and the peak in March (when it hit 14,800).
Net migration for July was 5786, down from 8549 in June.
However, the number of monthly departures continues to rise. There were 13,387 New Zealand citizens leaving in July, up from 11,505 in June
There have now been 16 consecutive months of net migration gains of non-New Zealand citizens from April 2022, amounting to 145,400 people.
Stats NZ said this net migration gain compared with a net migration loss of 32,300 non-New Zealand citizens in the 24 months from April 2020 to March 2022, when Covid-related border and travel restrictions were in place.
There have been 21 consecutive months of net migration losses of New Zealand citizens to July 2023, amounting to 55,600 people.
That followed 27 months of mainly net migration gains of New Zealand citizens, amounting to 32,100 people.
Provisional estimates for the year ended July 2023 compared with the year ended July 2022 were:
- Migrant arrivals: 208,400 (± 1900), up 212 per cent.
- Migrant departures: 112,200 (± 1200), up 38 per cent.
- Annual net migration: gain of 96,200 (± 2100), compared with a net loss of 14,500 (± 100).