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By Guest Expert

Here’s what’s really happening to Australia’s migration levels

We know Australia's unemployment rate is at historic lows and we are desperately looking for more skilled migrants to fill the gaps.

So why aren't they coming into the country?

Fact is...Australia is experiencing a slow pick up in net migration with permanent and long-term departures running above pre-pandemic levels.

Net permanent and long-term is running around 35% of its pre-pandemic pace.

Overseas arrivals and departures data for June show a continued, but gradual return of international travel.

Net permanent and long-term arrivals, which give a more timely signal of net migration, have picked up from pandemic lows.

Net Long Term Arrivals V Net Migration

According to the ABS, there were 6,700 net permanent and long-term arrivals in June compared to 19,100 in June 2019.

Total arrivals and departures

Details from NAB Research showed that there has been a large pickup in gross arrivals with 64,000 permanent and long-term arrivals in June, above the 59,000 arrivals in the same month of 2019.

Total Arrivals And Departure

However, there has been a larger rise in departures with 57,000 departures in June, outpacing the 43,000 in June 2019 amid catch-up from deferred outward migration over the pandemic period.

Permanent And Long Term Arrivals

What's the hold up?

Visa processing backlogs have been cited as constraining a similar period of catch-up in arrivals.

On the other hand, records for student visa applications that were received in June potentially point to a recovery in student arrivals.

One caveat though is China’s zero-COVID policy and the inability of Chinese students to arrive in the country.

Provisional data for July shows a sharp pick up in total arrivals than departures, consistent with normalisation in season student arrivals in the month for the first time since the pandemic.

Short-term travels

As for short-term travel, the data also shows a continued normalisation, though total border crossings remain well below pre-pandemic levels.

Short-term residents returning in June had recovered 46% of 2019 levels, while short-term visitors arriving had recovered 42%.

Short Term Visitor Arrivals

The ABS also noted a return to shorter trips overseas and to more usual destinations in June consistent with more regular holiday-making patterns.

Source of commentary and charts: Taylor Nugent, Economist National Australia Bank 

About Guest Expert Apart from our regular team of experts, we frequently publish commentary from guest contributors who are authorities in their field.
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