Tuesday, December 07, 2010

Immigration. At this rate they'll have nothing to worry about

Our rate of immigration is tumbling already.

During the election a bipartisan concern, the latest figures show net migration falling sharply with the number of permanent and long-term arrivals outnumbering departures by only 210,400 in the year to October, well down on the 324,700 a year before.

A rolling annual graph shows the rate continuing to plunge as increasing numbers of Australians head overseas and fewer immigrants come here.

In October just 9370 overseas arrivals settled on Australian shores, the lowest total since March 2004.

Although according with Prime Minister Gillard's expressed desire during the campaign for "a sustainable Australia, not a big Australia," the slowdown has ominous portents for Australia's economic boom...

"Businesses are shaking their heads," said Commonwealth Securities economist Craig James. "Job markets are tight with not enough local talent to fill positions. But while companies are crying out for staff, migrant numbers are plunging."

"Over the past year, the annual number of migrants has plunged by a record 35 per cent, robbing the economy of momentum at an important time."

"It is in the interests of all Australians to have a balanced job market. The last thing anyone wants to see is the Reserve Bank keeping interest rates at higher levels than they should be because restrictions on migrant inflows are pushing up wages and prices."

Separately released job advertisement data show advertisements up 2.9 per cent in November as firms struggled to get staff. Newspaper job advertisements rebounded 0.9 per cent after slipping for two months.

The ANZ says its count of advertisements points to a further jump in employment of 20,000 when the November figures are released Tuesday, enough to push the unemployment rate down from 5.4 to 5.2 per cent.

But it warns the job figures will "effectively cover hiring decisions made prior to the Reserve Bank's latest interest rate increase".

"Given anecdotal reports of more moderate consumer behaviour since, it is reasonable to expect some moderation in the rate of growth of labour demand in the months ahead," said economist Ivan Colhoun.

The high dollar and cheap airfares pushed Australian short-term departures to a record high of 7 million trips in the year to October. During that month we left the country around 600,000 times, up 15 per cent on the previous October.

Tourist arrivals have continued to climb despite the dollar, climbing 5 per cent in the year to October.

Tourism Task Force managing director is optimistic the trend will continue expecting an "Oprah Winfrey effect."

"She is a promotional and endorsement platform second to none," he said.

"Make no mistake - it is a coup that she has chosen Australia for her international foray and this will raise our profile in the United States and the scores of other countries where her show is broadcast."

New Zealand and the United Kingdom were by the far the biggest source of tourist followed by the United States, China and Japan.

The most popular destinations for Australian tourists are New Zealand, Indonesia and the United States, forllowed by the United Kingdom, Thailand and China.

Published in today's SMH and Age

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