Are we under-measuring our migrant numbers?

New data from Statistics NZ shows that migration, as we currently track it, is not always representative of true long-term migration. Using this information, we know that net migration in 2003 was severely underestimated. Given current labour market conditions and the attraction for both foreigners and returning New Zealanders to stick around, we believe that long-term net migration could currently be underestimated by 4,000-8,000 people.

Long-term implications of high net migration

New Zealand has gained around 72,000 more people in the past year according to arrival card data, and we’re feeling the strain of squeezing all these extra people into our cities.  But further analysis of visa data suggests that there are longer-term implications for these high arrival levels that, if left unchecked, could pose a problem for policymakers when we come off the high point in the business cycle.

Will government rule changes have a big effect on visa approvals?

The government has been successively tightening the rules for resident visas since October 2016. The purpose of these rule changes ostensibly is to reduce the number of people moving to New Zealand while not cutting off the supply of workers for our overstretched labour market. But each set of rule changes will have very different effects for migrants on work and resident visas. In this article, we outline the rule changes and discuss the implications of these changes for migration numbers and industry stakeholders.

The migration levels we should be targeting

Infometrics estimates that over the coming decade, net migration of between 10,500 and 16,600pa appears to be appropriate to maintaining New Zealand’s population growth relative to world growth. However, with net migration currently sitting at 72,300pa, a gradual approach to pulling back the numbers means that it could be seven years or longer before net migration sits within this range.

New Zealand research on the effects of migration

There has been a significant body of research over the last decade into the effects of immigration on various aspects of the New Zealand economy, much of it done by Motu, as well as the Reserve Bank, Treasury, or in conjunction with the Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment.  Some of the key findings from this research include the following.

A quick note on seasonally adjusted car sales

Infometrics uses seasonally adjusted data to gauge month-to-month trends in car registrations. The purpose of doing so is to track whether there are any changes in momentum in car sales growth. It also helps us to look through the seasonal patterns that normally drive sales up or down in any given month. Examples of a regular seasonal pattern include strong growth in new car sales due to rental car purchases in October and November, or the lift in sales around the time of Fieldays in June. This article provides explains how we might use seasonally adjusted data and how we calculate it.

On the level: new and used heavy two-axle trucks

In 2008, new brake requirements meant that the available supply of used commercial vehicles within the medium-heavy weight class plummeted, and demand for new vehicles soared. Fast forward a few years later and new medium-heavy vehicles have maxed out their advantage from the rule change. Competition from used vehicles has begun to eat away at the market share of new medium-heavy trucks and will continue to do so going forward.