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net Migration Loss Of NZ Citizens Surpasses 50,000

Representational Image | RNZ

Stats NZ has reported a record 52,500 New Zealand citizens left the country in the year ended March 31, marking a significant increase from the previous record of 44,400 departures over a decade ago, The New Zealand Herald reported. This departure trend has led to the first annual net migration loss of New Zealand citizens exceeding 50,000, according to Tehseen Islam of Stats NZ.

While migrant arrival numbers had previously peaked, with arrivals reaching 244,800 in the year ended December 2023, they have since declined. For the year ended March 2024, arrivals numbered 239,000. The net migration gain of 111,100 for the year consisted of a net gain of 163,600 non-New Zealand citizens, which more than offset the net migration loss of 52,500 Kiwi citizens.

Citizens of India constituted the largest group of migrant arrivals in the March 2024 year, with 49,800 arrivals. This was followed by approximately 31,900 arrivals from the Philippines, 26,800 from China, and 25,800 New Zealand citizens. Other significant groups included citizens from Fiji, South Africa, Sri Lanka, and the UK.

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ASB senior economist Mark Smith noted that many departing Kiwi citizens were likely younger individuals with skills, trades, and earning potential. He attributed the departures to Kiwis seeking better opportunities abroad, particularly in Australia and the UK, which are facing similar economic challenges but may offer more favorable conditions than New Zealand.

Smith predicted that net overall migration would decrease from the current figure of 111,100 to approximately 65,000 due to the sluggish New Zealand economy and stricter migration entry criteria. This shift could impact sectors such as construction and retail, as well as have broader economic implications due to the loss of productive talent.

While these migration trends indicate a prolonged domestic economic slowdown, there is a possibility of the Reserve Bank cutting the Official Cash Rate sooner than expected. Additionally, the latest travel data released by Stats NZ shows a positive increase in visitor arrivals, with 3.18 million arrivals in the year to March, up by 984,000 from the previous year.

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