Job growth bringing influx back to region

The bright lights and dark mines of Australia are not having as much pulling power for the people of Manawatu, new migration figures suggest.

Just 1395 people left the region for foreign shores in December, the lowest to do so since April 2011. Another 1517 arrived in Manawatu with the intent to stay long-term, continuing a three-month run of positive net migration for the region.

The data is compiled by Statistics New Zealand with the help of international departure and arrival cards.

Palmerston North City Council economic policy adviser Peter Crawford said the vast majority of international migration in Manawatu was people travelling to and from Australia.

The attraction of our nearest neighbours as a place to work and play appeared to be waning as the Manawatu economy picked up speed, Mr Crawford said.

"It's a sharp turnaround from what we were facing a year ago. We're getting projects like Fonterra's expansion in Pahiatua, which is encouraging people to stay for jobs.

"It's all about employment really. People go where they see jobs and at the moment they're less certain that a shift to Australia will get them one."

Total international migration from October to the end of 2013 has increased Palmerston North's population by 495 people, as 4057 people arrived from overseas compared to 3562 leaving.

Mr Crawford said a potential spanner in the works was that the statistics did not take into account people leaving for work in the main centres of New Zealand.

Migration could be increasing to places like Christchurch but signs were still positive for the region, he said. "For December alone there has been a change in net migration of 400 people from the same time in 2012. That's not something to be sniffed at."

New migrants brought new investment and Mr Crawford said growth in the number of building consents was a trend likely to be noticed in the coming year.

Manawatu Standard