NZ could lose 58k people to Aus as borders open - economist

Source: 1News

New Zealand could lose between 24,000 to 58,000 people in the next year, according to an economist's analysis, amid temptations of higher pay and lower living costs.

Analysis by Infometrics' principal economist Brad Olsen estimated that, since the start of the Covid-19 pandemic, about 24,000 people who usually would haven't moved to Australia.

He said about 34,000 Kiwis a year moved across the ditch in normal times, according to Stats NZ data.

If that pent-up demand combined with typical levels of migration to Australia over the next year, up to 58,000 people could be making that move, Olsen said.

He added, however, New Zealand could get back about 31,000 people who migrate back the other way around, and a further 18,000 who hadn't yet made the move because of the pandemic.

So, that could mean there were about 49,000 people who could move to Aotearoa from Australia.

But, the lure away from New Zealand might be hard to ignore for some, especially as the cost of living continued to ramp up locally.

Recruitment website Seek lists the fastest-growing professions on both sides of the Tasman.

As an example, for labourers in Australia, their average salary has increased by 21% to just over $62,000 annually. In Aotearoa, it was up 27% to just over $45,000 a year.

"In Australia, you're probably earning roughly $200 more a week," Olsen said.

Meanwhile, in one of Western Australia's most popular tourist destinations - Broome - local cafe Good Cartel is paying baristas nearly $100,000.

Sydney-based Kiwi Mikaela McLean works as a design consultant.

"The clients are on a much larger scale here in Sydney. The opportunities to learn and grow were the main factors," she said of her decision to move.

Previously, the high cost of living in places like Sydney had put people off. But, that was changing too.

"The rent prices I would've been paying in Auckland are exactly the same as I would've paid in Sydney," Mikaela said.

As for inflation, while New Zealand had hit 5.9% in the year to the December 2021 quarter - the largest movement in three decades - Australia's was 3.1% for the same time period. Essentially, the inflation gap meant prices were rising higher in New Zealand than its neighbour.

Hamish McLean of recruitment agency RobLawMax, which specialised in engineering and construction in Australia and New Zealand, said there were massive labour shortages in both countries.

"If Australia all of a sudden went on a huge boom and Kiwis flooded there, it would be devastating for our market."

But, New Zealand had its perks too.

Hamish said while Australia had always paid "significantly more" than New Zealand, it was closing up.

"Because the market is so tight here that wage increases have actually risen."

That was coupled with an incredibly busy building season, he added.