Immigration figures mean mixed news for UK jobs

Official figures released last week show that the number of central and eastern European migrants from the so-called A8 accession countries registering to work in the UK is running at a three year low.

This is yet another indicator of worsening labour market conditions. According to John Philpott, Chief Economist at the Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development (CIPD), the figures provide only limited comfort to British jobseekers.

The latest quarterly figures on A8 workers show that, with a fast weakening jobs market and a sharp drop in the value of the pound, the UK is losing its economic pulling power as far as eastern European migrants from the initial EU accession countries, especially Poland, are concerned, commented Philpott.

He went on to say: “The number registering to work in the third quarter was the lowest since the start of 2005 and well below the large inflows seen in 2006. Moreover, although separate figures on overall immigration to the UK in 2007 and the number of immigrants applying for National Insurance numbers in 2007/8 remain high, indicating that the UK is still attractive to foreign workers, including those from Bulgaria and Romania which joined the EU more recently, the rate of inflow is slower than earlier in the decade. The fact that immigration to the UK appears to have levelled off at the same time as emigration from the UK has fallen might indicate that, in uncertain times for the global economy, people either find it more difficult to migrate or they are simply playing safe and staying at home.”

He was able to find good news in that that employers with vacancies to fill will be more likely to turn to British jobseekers, especially those recently made redundant with relevant skills and up to date experience. “The bad news is that the smaller inflow of A8 migrants is another sign that there are simply fewer jobs available overall. Indeed, the fact that today’s figures also show an increase in the number of A8 migrants trying to sign on for the dole in the UK demonstrates how tough times are. What remains to be seen is whether migrants will flow back in such large numbers when the recession is over”

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