New Zealanders leaving at a record pace while immigration slows

New Zealanders are leaving the country at a record rate of about 1000 a week, but the pace of immigration gains has slowed.

Stats NZ monthly data showed 52,500 New Zealand citizens left in the year ended March, with 39 percent aged between 18 and 30, and more than half overall headed to Australia.

The previous record for annual net migration loss of New Zealand citizens was 44,400 in the February 2012 year.

Entering the country during the year were nearly 164,000 non-New Zealanders, dominated by the 18-to-44 age group, and with the largest numbers coming from India, the Philippines, China, and Fiji.

The annual net migration gain was 111,145, the lowest in 10 months, with gains having peaked at 139,000 last October.

ASB senior economist Mark Smith said past numbers had been revised lower and the tide of migration had turned.

“The net immigration outlook is highly uncertain, but we expect net permanent and long-term migrant inflows to cool over the next few years as the slowing economy reduces the attractiveness of New Zealand as a place to live and work.”

Working visa arrivals were also lower, which reflected tighter immigration rules, and the weakening labour market with slowing demand for workers and increased competition for the work available, Smith said.

Westpac senior economist Michael Gordon said the make-up of people leaving the country might be significant.

“Departures of New Zealanders have been on a strong upward trend since early 2022, probably reflecting a catch-up on delayed plans … a sharp lift in departures of non-New Zealand citizens … may be a sign that deteriorating job prospects are prompting some migrants to return home.”

The impact of record numbers of migrants has been debated over whether they have been inflationary by stoking demand such as housing, or have helped to contain inflation by filling labour shortages and pressuring wage growth.

According to the news on Radio New Zealand

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