28 Feb 2014

High migration level may continue

1:12 pm on 28 February 2014

A Westpac economist says a strong job market could lead to continued higher-than-normal levels of migration to New Zealand, well into the next six months.

New Zealand posted its highest migration gain for 10 years last month, with a seasonally adjusted net gain of 3100 migrants, up from 2900 in January last year.

The gain was the highest since January 2003, as fewer people moved overseas and more non-citizens settled here.

Westpac senior economist Felix Delbruck says the job market here is unusually strong compared with its Australian counterpart, and it's improving at the same time as Australia's is the weakest in over a decade.

Mr Delbruck says Australia is becoming a less attractive place to live, so fewer New Zealanders arew going there and more are coming back, while more people are moving to New Zealand from overseas.

He says New Zealand's job prospects are expected to improve even more this year while the job market is likely to remain weak in Australia.

Mr Delbruck says that means the current strong trend of immigration is likely to continue well into the second half of this year.

He says at the moment, because of the state of the economic cycle in the two countries, New Zealand is relatively more attractive than Australia; the last time that happened was back in 2003.