Foreign employers will be picking off NZ workers over the coming year, economist warns

An independent economist is warning New Zealand employers overseas companies will be looking to poach Kiwi workers over the coming year. 

It comes after data released from Statistics New Zealand on Monday showed Aotearoa had an annual net migration loss of 8700 in the year ended April 2022. It also found the number of border crossings in April was the highest since the Government introduced travel restrictions in March 2020, but still far below pre-pandemic figures.

There were 266,700 border crossings in April this year - 125,100 arrivals and 141,600 departures. Provisional data available for May is even higher, with 169,042 arrivals and 175,727 departures. 

Independent economist Cameron Bagrie told AM's Melissa Chan-Green on Tuesday Kiwi businesses need to prepare for stiff competition for staff now that the borders are open. 

"Foreign employers are going to be picking off New Zealand staff. They're going to be picking them off and offering them higher wages," Bagrie said. 

"I mean you jump across the ditch to Australia where your wages are higher and houses are a lot more affordable so that's going to tick an awful lot of boxes." 

Bagrie said thankfully New Zealand isn't seeing a "brain drain" just yet, but he warned the lure of overseas work and holidays will make the next year tough for businesses. 

"We are losing what we call non New Zealand citizens, they're packing their bags and they're off. 

"The other side of the coin is that New Zealand residents - we normally lose them in a stock standard year. What we are seeing at the moment is a small flow of 200 so the positive side of the ledger is bigger than the outflow. 

"Now the $1 million question is what is that going to look like over the coming six to 12 months because certainly when you talk to employers out there at the moment there are a lot... that are very nervous about what people in their twenties are going to be thinking… and the lure and the attraction of moving overseas." 

Data from job site Seek, released on Tuesday, shows the number of jobs available is continuing to outpace applicants as many businesses struggle with staff shortages and skill gaps. 

The figures show job ads rose 3 percent in May to a new record while applications fell by 4 percent.

A report earlier in the year found businesses are facing the perfect storm of critical staff shortages, record employment and huge demands for goods and services.

A lack of immigrants over the pandemic has also exacerbated staffing issues for several key industries including agriculture and hospitality.