Immigration figures 'about right' - Minister

11:33 am on 22 March 2016

The latest immigration figures are about right, considering the demand for workers in some industries and the decreasing unemployment levels, the Economic Development Minister Steven Joyce says.

Steven Joyce at bridge run.

Photo: RNZ / Alexander Robertson

Official figures show a record 67,400 permanent and long term migrants settled here in the year to February - the 19th consecutive month at a record level.

But some employers said that was still not high enough, despite there being 133,000 people unemployed.

Mr Joyce told Morning Report there were specific shortages in industries from time to time, such as technology, which could be filled with skilled migrants.

He said about 28,000 of the 67,400 quoted in the new figures were overseas students, and most of them would leave New Zealand within a year or so.

The government was putting a lot of effort into getting young people into careers, with things like new apprenticeship programmes, he said.

"We actually have the highest number of apprentices starting out in areas like construction, plumbing and carpentry that we have had for more than a decade."

Mr Joyce said it was a work in progress but the trend of unemployment was down significantly.