19 Jul 2013

Strong NZ economy attractive for many

10:27 pm on 19 July 2013

The number of people moving to New Zealand to live long term has reached its highest level in four years.

Official figures show a seasonally-adjusted gain of 2300 immigrants in June, due to more arrivals and fewer New Zealanders leaving for Australia.

The contrasting fortunes of Australia's and New Zealand's economies are being borne out in the migration figures.

The relative strength of New Zealand's economy is drawing people to the country, led by immigrants moving to earthquake-damaged Christchurch in search of work as the rebuild picks up pace.

Australia's slowing economy is also deterring more New Zealanders from leaving.

On an annual basis, New Zealand gained 7900 people, though Statistics New Zealand says it still below the average of the past decade.

Auckland is also attracting immigrants, and economists fear that will put more pressure on the region's already heated property market.

However, economists expect that an improving economy will continue to attract more people from overseas and predict immigration to rise to at least 15,000 people by the end of 2013.

BNZ economist Doug Steel said the boost would add about 28,000 people to the population over the course of a year.

"It'll put quite a bit of pressure on domestic resources, particularly the housing stock and also generate a bit more activity in sales. While it also increases labour supply, we just think in this juncture of the economic cycle the bigger pressure there will be the impulse to sales and the pressure on domestic resource."

Mr Steel said the slowdown of the Australian economy is partly behind the rise.

"Employment growth hasn't been as strong as in the past, the mining sector over there is turning over. Also the Christchurch rebuild getting underway - the emigration we were seeing after the earthquakes is turning into immigration, so there (are) more people going into Canterbury than leaving."

The net loss of migrants to Australia has shrunk to 1600 - the lowest in three years.