October 14, 2020

Net migration at six month high

Is it a dead cat bounce?

Migration numbers released for August 2020 reveal a new six month high of net migration for New Zealand of 1,130. This is based on 2,760 arrivals and 1,630 departures.

It should be noted that for the month of August 2020, there were just 7,840 international visitors, which itself was the highest monthly total since March 2020.

While this net migration figure is well below the monthly average of 5,250 seen between January 2015 and March 2020, it is still the highest monthly figure in the six months since New Zealand’s border was closed to anyone, except New Zealand citizens and residents, and those with a border exemption.

The question though, is this a dead cat bounce? Or is it the start of a gradual increase in net migration in the coming months, as more capacity is added to New Zealand’s mandatory isolation and quarantine facilities, and travel bubbles open up?

Since the start of April 2020 and the border closure, New Zealand’s net migration has seen 1,680 people, with 8,960 arrivals and 7,280 departures, as shown in the figure below. This change in net migration, is comprised of a net gain of 5,160 New Zealanders returning to New Zealand, while there has been a net loss of 3,480 people of other citizenships leaving New Zealand.

Tatauranga Aotearoa

At the same time there has been a total of 19,100 international visitors who have arrived in New Zealand since the start of April 2020 through to the end of August 2020. This means that around 45 percent of the people who have entered New Zealand’s borders since the start of April 2020 have been permanent migrants. Over the last five years prior to the border closure, New Zealand has had on average around 12,500 migrant arrivals a month, which is four percent of the 295,350 people who on average arrived in New Zealand each month.

Tatauranga Aotearoa

On an annual basis, New Zealand has had net migration of 71,490 for the year ending August 2020, as shown in the figure below, with 35,670 of these migrants arriving in the first quarter of 2020. Of the 71,490 net migration, 31,130 of the migrants were citizens from within Oceania, including returning New Zealanders, while 16,750 came from Asia, 10,040 came from Europe and America, and the remaining 13,560 come from other countries. The most prominent of the other countries is South Africa from which 7,700 net migrants have arrived.

Prior to the border closure in March 2020, net migration into New Zealand had hit an annual peak of 91,320. As shown in the figure below, this represents a strong surge in net migration throughout 2019 and into 2020. Of course these migration figures may be revised down as it takes Statistics New Zealand 16 months to confirm that an individual has indeed permanently migrated to New Zealand (stayed in New Zealand for at least 12 out of the 16 months). The disruption to international travel caused by COVID-19 may be behind some of the strong increase in 2019 as people intending to stay less than 12 months, may have decided to stay longer due to the pandemic or may have being forced to stay longer.

Tatauranga Aotearoa