New Zealand’s infrastructure continues to grapple with an unresolved and persistent challenge – the mounting pressure caused by net migration. According to sociologist Paul Spoonley from Massey University, this ongoing issue remains unresolved despite the latest migration data revealing an influx of over 72,000 people in the year leading up to April.
Spoonley highlights that this figure has brought the country’s net annual migration gain back to pre-pandemic levels in December 2019 when New Zealand witnessed its highest net gain ever. He emphasizes, “We’re right back up there.” SOURCE: RNZ
The spike in arrivals in March appears to be the driving force behind these numbers, with provisional figures for April suggesting a potential slowdown in the pace of migration. Additionally, Immigration New Zealand has been occupied with processing the transition of 220,000 individuals from temporary to permanent visas, contributing to the current statistics.
In the early part of the year, concerns primarily focused on the country’s ability to attract talent in a fiercely competitive global landscape. However, as Professor Spoonley notes, the focus has now shifted to the increasing number of arrivals. He mentions a report by the Productivity Commission from last year, which stated that migration was imbalanced, underscoring the need for attention.
The data reveals that New Zealand is attracting workers at a higher rate than Australia. Nonetheless, the country is experiencing a growing net loss of its own citizens. Spoonley points out that the net loss of New Zealanders has risen significantly between the previous and current figures.
The primary sources of migration to New Zealand are from India, the Philippines, and China, with the construction, hospitality, transport, and agriculture sectors witnessing the highest influx of workers. However, sectors identified by the government as requiring additional overseas workers, such as education and healthcare, have not seen a comparable number of arrivals.
Spoonley challenges the estimates provided by “Treasury and others,” suggesting that the projected net gain of 60,000 to 66,000 people this year may be conservative. He believes the figures will likely balance around 70,000 to 80,000, though acknowledging the volatile nature of migration statistics.
The sustainability of such high net migration numbers raises major concerns, particularly regarding the strain on housing supply and other infrastructure. Spoonley highlights that the Productivity Commission’s report from last year indicated an imbalance between population growth driven by migration and the provision of necessary infrastructure and services. Despite returning to a similar situation, this critical issue remains unresolved.
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