13 Jun 2023

Net migration figures show gain of 72,300 people in year to April

3:45 pm on 13 June 2023
Airplane in the sky at sunrise

Net migration eased in April falling back to 5800, less than half of the gains seen in the previous two months. Photo: 123RF

Monthly provisional migration levels have returned to near pre-pandemic levels as the population continues to grow, with the annual net migration figures showing a gain of 72,300 people in the year to April.

Monthly net migration gain fell back to 5800, less than half of the gains seen in the previous two months, suggesting a return to more normal levels.

Kiwibank senior economist Mary Jo Vergara said the surge in migration over the past few months was likely due to pent-up demand, and she expected flows would ease over the coming year.

"Migrants whose plans to come to New Zealand were stymied by Covid border restrictions are coming now," she said.

"On a quarterly basis, we believe we're nearing peak net inflows.

"Annually, net migration is still climbing. We're on track to hit 95-100,000 later this year.

"That's a lot, but it's largely baked in.

"Given the big gains over the past few quarters, we're more than halfway there."

Vergara said most migrant workers coming in were aged between 20 and 34, though she did not think the current migration boom would prove to be as inflationary as some feared.

"Principally because rising net migration is helping to increase the capacity of the economy - more than it is adding to aggregate demand," Vergara said.

"As we saw in the latest labour market update, the participation rate rose to a newly printed high of 72 percent with the resurgence in migration.

"Migrants come here at a working age, and they are keen to work. The boost in labour supply is plugging the staffing gaps that have long-plagued firms in this Covid era."

Meanwhile, ASB senior economist Mark Smith said the data added weight to the view that Aotearoa was not "in the midst of a net immigration super-cycle".

"There are scant signs to date of an immigration boost to demand," he said.

"With capacity pressures particularly acute in the labour market, our sense is that the stronger outlook for net immigration should result in considerably less upward pressures on medium-term inflation than is historically the case."