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Biggest net migrant loss in 11 years

Otago Daily Times - March 6, 2012. "New Zealand has recorded its biggest loss of migrants in a 12-month period since August 2001 but ASB chief economist Nick Tuffley says the permanent departure of Kiwis to Australia has been moderating. "

"About 4700 more New Zealanders left for Australia than arrived in January, taking the annual loss to a record 38,100 in the 12-month period, according to Statistics New Zealand.

That drove a monthly net outflow of migrants to 500, and pushed the net outflow of migrants to 3134 in the year ended January 31, the highest net loss since August 2001.

"Net losses have been recorded in 10 of the 11 months since the February 2011 earthquake in Christchurch," Statistics NZ said in a statement.

The biggest loss of migrants was in Canterbury, with an annual outflow of 3700.

Auckland was the only region to attract a net inflow of people, gaining 5600 in the 12 months ended on January 31.

Mr Tuffley said the main driver of the larger net outflow was a 2.1% month-on-month seasonally adjusted fall in arrivals, with departures coming in at a more steady -0.3%.

"New Zealand's economic recovery remains modest so the drawcard of work prospects won't be particularly compelling."

Recently, migrants from the United Kingdom had been declining in numbers, he said.

Job growth in Australia had moderated and that would, over time, reduce the incentive to emigrate over the Tasman.

The continued net outflow of migrants was continuing to restrain population growth, which would be taking some of the strain out of Auckland and Canterbury housing markets while rebuilding activity remained low, Mr Tuffley said.

"We expect the net outflow will gradually turn around, particularly as the emerging trend of fewer departures to Australia becomes more entrenched."

Short-term visitors rose 0.5% to 266,800 people in January from the same month a year earlier, led by a 61% surge in Chinese tourists.

On an annual basis, short-term visitor numbers rose 2.7% to 2.6 million, led by more Chinese, Australian and French visitors.

Mr Tuffley said the driver for short-term visitor arrivals was an Asia-Pacific story.

Australian arrivals were still higher than pre-Rugby World Cup levels and visitor numbers from several Asian countries were up strongly over the past year.

Growth in visitor numbers from China had been very strong.

Chinese New Year fell in January this year, which might have encouraged a sharp surge over the month.

"Even so, the underlying trend is strong. The number of Chinese coming to New Zealand for a holiday over the past 12 months is nearly double what it was two years earlier."

Arrivals from China now outstripped the combined total from Japan and South Korea.

Visitor numbers from both of those had been falling, he said."


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