Destroying your knowledge base before replacing it fully with a new model has to be one of the sillier ventures our national statisticians have embarked upon, and the consequent guesswork can lead to all sorts of wrong conclusions.
I’d hoped the new model for counting migrants, that Statistics NZ introduced late last year, would include calculations of the net inflow into Auckland, but it didn’t – until this month. So, no comparison for those early months.
Nevertheless, the new model is starting to become useful, and the regional figures available this month will help to guide the housing industry – more on the regional figures further below.
That peak 20 months ago wasn’t the end of the rises
On the old formula, the net inflow of migrants peaked at 72,402 in the 12 months to July 2017.
On the new formula, under which a closer examination is made of immigrant movements and the figure is restated monthly, that peak figure promptly dropped by 14,524 to 57,878.
The parties in the government elected at the end of 2017 gave every indication that they’d see the net migrant inflow head downward. The rolling 12-month figure continued downward, falling below 51,000 in the 12 months to March 2018 and bottoming at 50,047 in June 2018.
Since then, despite the occasional tantrum from business lobbyists (Why do they want to replace novices, who might well improve, with politicians who’ve thoroughly proven their incompetence and won’t do better?), the rolling annual net migrant inflow has steadily risen every month – by 400 in August, and by 2000 in December.
It was up by another 1700 in January and rose a further 2900 in the 12 months to February, reaching a net inflow of 61,576. That’s 3700 above the revised peak reached in July 2017, and must be of great concern to the Auckland business lobbyists who said their members’ 2 biggest worries were an odd combination of the regional fuel tax & congestion – the former being raised to reduce the latter.
Judging by the early counts on the new model, the latest high point will be raised further. The initial annual counts, as of December, showed the net inflow getting below 50,000 in April last year – a fall of 7200/year in 8 months, and slipping another 2000 through to November, to an annual inflow of 47,998.
The latest estimates, out on Friday, show the early counts, from August 2017-June 2018, holding steady for a couple of months then falling in small handfuls. The number of migrants’ movements that Statistics NZ wants to know more about since then start at 154,000 for arrivals in July 2018, rising in quantum leaps through to 2.675 million in February.
Statistics NZ does warn to be cautious in comparing migrant arrivals before & after November 2018 because of the changes in migrant processing. Nevertheless, the recalculations since mid-2018 have shown a steadily growing upward trend in the net migrant inflow. The latest annual figure, 61,576 for the 12 months to February (the figure released on Friday), was estimated with 19% of migrant movements since arrival still being unknown.
Where are they coming from?
The biggest migrant group on both sides of the ledger are Kiwis, 39,200 arriving in the year to February 2017, 36,400 in each of the next 2 years. They‘re also the biggest group saying goodbye – 42,000 in the February 2017 year, 41,600 the next year and 44,200 in the latest 12 months, resulting in net Kiwi outflows of 2700, 5200 & a precise (for the moment) 7782.
The net inflow from China dropped from 11,600 in 2017 to 7800, then rose to 11,200 in the latest 12 months. The net inflow from India fell just short of 11,000 in the February 2017 year, lipped to 9300 then rose to 9500. The net inflow from the Philippines went from 7300 to 8000, then dropped to 6500.
The net inflow from Europe fell from 6500 to 5500, then rose to 9500. From the Americas, the inflow rose slightly from 3500 to 3750, then jumped to 5300. From Africa & the Middle East, the net inflow was around 7000 for 2 years, then rose to 8700. The main component of the African arrivals has been South Africans, down from 5600 to 5400, then jumping to 7000.
How many for Auckland?
The other question that couldn’t be answered while the new statistical model was being established was: When are the new migrants going?
Last year, just over half the net inflow was stopping in Auckland, according to the old model.
Figures from Statistics NZ for the October 2018 year showed 56,451 immigrants (59,700 in the previous 12 months) stopping in Auckland, and 25,478 emigrants (23,343) heading off to see the world, for net inflows of 30,973 (36,357).
Using the new model, Statistics NZ has 53,829 migrants arriving in Auckland in the 12 months to December (59,678 in 2017), 23,526 leaving (no 2017 figure) for a net inflow of 36,152.
Using the old model for the July 2017 year, 59,447 migrants (53,213 in 2016) decided to stop in Auckland. The net inflow into Auckland for the 3 July years, 2015-17, rose from 27,395 to 31,951 to 36,753.
Earlier story, 12 April 2019: Latest count shows migrant inflow rising
Attribution: Statistics NZ.