Published 23 January 2020, additional detail added 24 January 2020:
Statistics NZ issued 2 much lower estimates of net immigration on Thursday, a revised figure for the year to last May and the first estimate for the year to November.
The estimate made in December for the net inflow to last May was 55,500. On Thursday, Statistics NZ cut that figure by 9400 to 46,100.
The statisticians’ first shot at the net inflow for the November year is down another 4600 to 41,500 (± 1,600).
Population indicators manager Tehseen Islam said: “The latest net migration estimates indicate we are about 20,000 below the peak of 63,900 reached in the year ended July 2016.”
Provisional estimates for the year to November:
- Arrivals – 137,000 (± 1400)
- Departures – 95,500 (± 1300)
- Net migration gain – 41,500 (± 1600).
The figures have considerable political weight.
At the 2017 election, Labour campaigned on reducing immigration, opponents & critics argued last year that the inflow wasn’t falling, and now it’s down at least 22,400 – 35% – from the 2016 peak, and likely to fall a little further as estimates are revised over several months.
Additional migration detail:
Changes in migration figures over the last 2 years have come primarily from restructuring of Statistics NZ’s counting process, from an intentions basis on travellers’ arrival, to an outcomes basis subjected to monthly review after arrival.
The first notable change to occur was to the peak of net immigration. Using the intentions basis, Statistics NZ calculated the peak occurred in the 12 months to July 2017, when the net migrant inflow was 72,402.
The last figures using the old measure put the net inflow at 61,751 for the year to October 2018 – a drop of 14.7% from the migration peak inflow of 72,402 in the July 2017 year.
Using the new measure, the peak net inflow was 63,900 in the year ended July 2016.
When the outcomes basis was introduced for the November 2018 calculation, the initial count was a net inflow of 43,416 (±1,500), down 19.3% from the revised inflow of 53,831 for the previous 12 months. A month later, that figure for the November 2018 year was revised upward to an estimated 48,000 (± 1,200).
A year ago, Statistics NZ’s population insights senior manager at the time, Brooke Theyers, said the 5 years 2014-18 had the largest net migration gains ever in New Zealand’s history, with an estimated 270,000 more migrant arrivals than migrant departures. An estimated 700,000 migrants arrived and 430,000 migrants departed over that period.
Most migrants arrived on work, visitor or student visas. However, by definition, they stayed for at least 12 months after extending their visa or transitioning to other visa types, including residence visas: “Even though many migrants arriving only stay for a year or 2, it’s important to count them as migrants and not short-term visitors. They are part of our resident population, which has implications for infrastructure & service provision.”
The latest recalculation
Current population indicators manager Tehseen Islam said yesterday the latest migration estimates included an improvement to the linking of 15,000 arrivals & departures: “These links were missed previously and make up 0.1% of the total 15.3 million border crossings from October 2018 to October 2019. This linking is fundamental to identifying whether travellers crossing the border are migrants or visitors when arriving or leaving New Zealand.
“An additional 1 in every 1000 border crossings has now been linked to a subsequent arrival or departure.
“This helps us classify those 15,000 border crossings as visitors rather than migrants.
“As a result of this change, provisional estimates of migrant arrivals & departures are generally lower than previously published estimates. Because arrivals have been revised down more than departures, net migration is lower than previously published estimates. Final migration estimates are unaffected, however. Migration estimates for the year ended July 2018 have now been finalised with a net migration of 48,300.”
The missing detail
One other factor in Statistics NZ’s calculations that’s missing from this story is the migrant makeup, which requires mastering Statistics NZ’s Infoshare maze, a task I’ve put off but will have to learn because that information is not otherwise readily available.
Those details include citizenship, migrant origin & the kind of visa used, and estimates of destination in New Zealand.
15 February 2019: Migrant inflow up as exit count adjusted down
25 January 2019: November net migrant inflow down 40%, annual rate down 19% as new measure kicks in
22 September 2017: An immigration pause – or a turning point?
20 April 2017: Government resets some immigration rules
24 February 2017: Economist sees scope for house price fall – my picture more complicated
19 January 2017: Building consent highs still don’t match migrant demand
22 May 2016: Net migrant inflow 160,000 over 3 years, 74,000 into Auckland
Attribution: Statistics NZ.