Net Migration Falling, Permanent Departures Up 7.2%.

We came across this press release on The ASB says that net migration has fallen from its peak and could slow by more than half to around 10,000 people a  year. It seems that employment growth and a more favorable outlook across the Tasman will continue to attract Kiwis out of New Zealand.

These figures will have an impact on a housing market already feeling the burden of forthcoming changes in the taxation of investment property, a proposal to increase GST to 15%  and a relatively strong dollar reducing the purchasing power of migrants.

“Net migration continues at a firm pace, recording net 1,060 new migrants over February, although showing some sign of softening. The annual pace of inflow is now easing from its peak, recording 21,600 new migrants over the year to February, compared to 22,600 in January. The slowing pace of migration comes as permanent departures have started to recover, rising 7.2% in February. This pick up has been underpinned by a recovery in departures to Australia, a trend we expect to continue over 2010. The Australian economy has fared comparatively well through the global downturn, managing to avoid recession. Employment growth there over the past 6 months has been robust, in contrast to rising unemployment in NZ. The more favorable economic outlook will continue to draw New Zealanders across the Tasman: we expect the monthly pace of departures will recover from 5,250 per month currently to 6,500. The annual pace of net migration is likely to slow from 22,000 per year, to around 10,000 per year.

Short-term visitor arrivals fell 1.9% in January. Nonetheless, the current trend level in visitor arrivals remains firm. Australian visitor numbers remain steady, after strong growth over the second half of 2010. We expect Australian visitor arrivals to remain firm, as the lower NZD/AUD makes New Zealand a relatively cheap alternative for Australian holiday makers. Encouragingly, there also appears to be an improvement in Asian visitor arrivals over the past few months. The increased interest has been broad based, with a rise in Japanese, Korean and Chinese numbers. However, StatsNZ have noted extra caution should be applied to interpreting Chinese visitor arrivals, as the typical seasonal pattern has been disrupted by the change in timing of Chinese New Year.


We expect the pace of net migration to slow over 2010, and the recent pick up in departures to Australia confirm this trend is developing. The slower pace of net migration will remove some of the support to the housing market during the year.

The ongoing strength in visitor arrivals has been encouraging, particularly the recent increase in arrivals from Asia. Meanwhile, the lower NZD/AUD is helping NZ benefit from Australia’s good fortune, increasing NZ’s attractiveness as a holiday destination. We expect that strong arrivals from Australia will continue as we head into the ski season.”

What these migration figures don’t show are the age profiles of the people coming to and leaving New Zealand and that a brain drain is underway again.

In the opinion of one prominent economist in Singapore last week  New Zealand’s brain drain should be plugged with opportunity. Yuwa Hedrick-Wong, MasterCard Worldwide economic adviser said:

“The exodus of the best and brightest to Australia is an Achilles heel for New Zealand business, and personal and business tax breaks may be part of the answer, according to a visiting economist.

MasterCard Worldwide economic adviser Yuwa Hedrick-Wong said the persistent trend of migration to Australia of more than 20,000 people a year “seriously constrains entrepreneurial potential” here.

Speaking in Wellington, Singapore-based Dr Hedrick-Wong said those leaving for Australia tended to be “younger and better educated” people typically with a greater risk-taking attitude.

“They want to conquer the world,” he said, but they should be able to do that from New Zealand, rather than having to leave.

“This is a damaging drain on the intellectual and entrepreneurial gene pool of the country,” he said.

New Zealand could only reach its true economic potential if it stopped the “haemorrhaging of talent”, he said.

Despite economic reforms in the past two decades and being an easy country in which to do business, New Zealand was still losing talent, Dr Hedrick-Wong said.

New Zealand should consider personal and business tax breaks as personal incentives for people to stay, support for business incubators and encouraging greater investment in areas such as the services sectors to create more job opportunities.

“If you are successful in getting those people back, the economic benefit is just huge,” he said…”

In June of last year Bernard Hickey was interviewed on TVNZ. He advised Generation X & Y to leave NZ as soon as possible because they are destined to live in two retirement islands and will have to visit their grandchildren overseas. Read our post about it here. He concluded by saying:

Your only choice is to migrate as soon as the global economy starts recovering and the jobs become available again.
This will be the best revenge you can get. They (the baby boomers) will have to watch their grandchildren grow up by email and the occasional flying visit.
I’m not kidding. Leave ASAP.”

It looks like they are!

See also: “New Zealand’s Aging Population and the Great Kiwi Brain Drain written in December 2008. At that time John Key said

“One of the really worrying things is one in four people who have been to university have now left New Zealand and live overseas. That is the worst brain drain of any country in the developed world.”

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