NZ migrant numbers down to 61,800 a year

2:19 pm on 22 November 2018

Migration has fallen to its lowest level in three years in New Zealand in the past year.

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New Zealand's net migration dropped to its lowest level since 2015 in the past year. Photo: 123RF

Official figures show migration eased to 61,800 in the year that ended in October, because more people left and fewer arrived.

"Although migrant departures continue to be the driving force behind falling annual net migration, October also had a noticeable fall in the number of migrant arrivals," Stats NZ senior manager Brooke Theyers said.

"Both trends helped bring annual net migration to its lowest level since the year ended September 2015."

The level of immigration peaked in the middle of last year with a record annual gain of 72,400.

Immigration has been declining since last year, as students and visitors on working holidays head back home, while fewer New Zealanders have returned.

High immigration levels have been a key factor driving domestic economic activity.

"We expect that migration will continue to ease back over the next few years, pulling population growth down in the process," Westpac senior economist Satish Ranchhod said.

The government said it wanted to reduce immigration, but various business sectors were lobbying to be allowed to bring in migrants workers to fill critical shortages, such as in horticulture, construction, and service industries.

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