New South Wales remains the most popular choice for new arrivals to Australia with more than have of them professionals.

The state though has seen fewer arrivals that mirror a countrywide drop in migration, a new survey shows.

The Department of Immigration and Citizenship's (DIAC) Settler Arrival survey reveals 140,610 people moved to Australia in the 2009/2010 financial year, a drop of 11%.

It also shows that NSW was still the most attractive destination, with about 30% of all new arrivals flocking to the state. The next most popular state was Victoria that attracted 26% of new migrants, followed by Queensland at 18%. Western Australia attracted around 15%.

Most migrants to NSW were educated professionals from China and India, with settler arrivals from those countries at 17 and 11% respectively, 7,062 from China and 4,441 from India.

NSW remained the most popular destination for migrants to settle despite an increasing number of new arrivals choosing to live in other states. The number of people settling in the state decreased from 47,030 in 2008/09 to 42,267 in the last financial year.

'Overall the numbers of settler arrivals are now near the level they were in 2006/07,' a departmental spokesman said.

The figures show New Zealand and China are now the top two source countries by birth, with India, the United Kingdom and South Africa making up the remaining countries in the top five.

A departmental spokesman said the Australian Government was committed to a migration programme that was targeted to help grow Australia's economy and meet critical labour needs.

'The Australian Government has undertaken a series of strategic reforms of the skilled migration programme, to make it more responsive to Australia's labour market demands,' the spokesman said. 'These reforms are about selecting the best and brightest people from a large pool of potential migrants.'

The government announced in the 2010/11 Budget a total of 168,700 places for migration, comprising a total skill stream of 113,850 places, a total family stream of 54,550 places and 300 special eligibility places.

'This will increase the proportion of skilled migrants to 67.5% of the migration programme to further address Australia's needs as the economic climate improves while still ensuring places for family migration and reunion,' the spokesman added.

Settler Arrivals 2009/10 is the latest in the annual series of statistical publications that provides information on people arriving in Australia to live permanently.

More than half of all settlers into Australia were professionals or worked as managers and administrators. The Settler Arrival survey sources its data from passenger arrival and departure cards filled in by new arrivals.