Net migration bolsters Manawatu

Manawatu has returned to the glory days of positive net migration for the first time since June 2011.

In October and November 2013, more people arrived from foreign shores to Manawatu than left, latest Statistics New Zealand figures show.

The return to positive figures after nearly 18 months of bleeding is being hailed as an "outstanding turnaround" for the region and has been led by a "significant" drop in departures and increased number of Australian migrants, Palmerston North City Council economic policy adviser Peter Crawford said.

In November, 1460 people departed Palmerston North, a 16.7 per cent decrease on the 1753 people who departed in November 2012. In the same month 1527 people immigrated to Palmerston North, a 5.3 per cent increase on November 2012 and an overall positive net migration of 67 people.

Mr Crawford said the statistics were a great result for the city.

"The fact that the rate of change is matching New Zealand is really positive from our point of view because the last cycle was exaggerated by the number of migrants moving to Christchurch looking for work.

"It'll add more pressure to the housing market in Palmerston North, it will boost spending statistics, and it will encourage jobs in industries such as building."

About 100 of Palmerston North's migrants per year were refugees, and because of that there was a perception that greater migrant numbers could mean an increase in unemployment rates, he said.

While that was possible, most immigrants to Palmerston North were from Australia and the United Kingdom, and did not need language training before joining the work force, Mr Crawford said.

"Traditionally, natural increase [more births than deaths] has led the growth in Palmerston North, because there is a younger population in the city.

"With migration, it's far more likely to create change in the workforce straight away, and that's why it's so good to have it back in positive."

Palmerston North Mayor Jono Naylor said the return to positive figures was a good start and now the goal had to be to keep it that way.

"A lot of significant industries such as our research and development areas are reliant on people migrating to Palmerston North, so to see them arriving in greater numbers and bringing skills with them is a step in the right direction."

Manawatu Standard