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EU net migration to UK falls amid Brexit

Recent figures show the most significant departure of Europeans from the UK ever recorded by the Office of National Statistics. The exodus is putting pressure on vast swathes of industry, from construction to food processing and hospitality.

EU migration

There has been a stark fall in immigration from the EU, with numbers dropping by a quarter since the referendum. Not only are there fewer EU citizens arriving, but now they are leaving at the fastest rate in ten years. These two trends mean that overall net migration has fallen by 60% since the referendum.

Non-EU immigration

Non-EU immigration has increased to levels not seen since 2004. In a way, this is the worst of both worlds – an exodus of workers from key industries but at the same time a failure to curb immigration, one of Teresa May’s cornerstone promises. 

Why is this happening?

Fewer people are coming to the UK for work. It’s difficult to determine exactly why this is the case, but the fact that money earned in the UK is worth less than it was before, the referendum result, the uncertainty around Brexit and the future status of people coming to the UK have all had an impact. 

The number of migrants leaving the UK has risen too. This might be because of the value of the pound, economic conditions, and the fact many of their home countries have improved economically and socially over time.

What does this mean for job vacancies?

Presumably, if non-EU migration has gone up, those people who are coming to work here are going into specific jobs for which there are shortages. However, the profile of jobs that EU and non-EU migrants fill are slightly different. Non-EU migrants, on average, tend to be in somewhat higher skilled positions. Many of the people coming in under the UK visa system are sent explicitly to very highly trained jobs and are the skilled migrants that the government says it wants. 

Will there be shortages of unskilled labour?

It’s difficult to know what the right amount of immigration is, and employers say they’re happy with the large numbers of people in the labour force. Research has found that the overall economic impacts of migration are not as significant as many people expect.


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