Personal Immigration

UK population growth hits 14-year low as EU migration drops

The growth of the UK population has slumped to its slowest rate since 2004 as fewer EU migrants are arriving without having already secured employment.

The figures come from the ONS, and it shows the population reached 66 million for the first time around June 2017. But the population increase is now just 0.6%, which is the lowest since the middle of 2014. The number of migrants arriving to start a new job remains fairly stable, but the number arriving to look for a job dropped by a massive 43% in the 12 months following the Brexit referendum. And it is EU citizens that make up the bulk of this drop.

Brexit fears

The report from the ONS affirmed that more than three quarters of the net migration decrease can be attributed to EU citizens. The number of international immigrants totalled 572.000, which is 78,000 less than in 2016 – a fall of 12%. And the number of EU citizens living in the UK fell from 189,000 in 2016 to 107,000 in 2017 – a fall of 82,000. The report added that the EU referendum is most likely a “key driver” of these statistics.

A new trend

Neil Park is the head of population estimates at the ONS, and he confirmed that these figures represent the lowest annual increase in population since 2004, owing to a drop in net migration, fewer births and a larger number of deaths than previously seen. And the effect is showing itself most in London, as well as other areas that usually see high levels of UK immigration.

ONS figures released earlier in 2018 showed that net migration from the EU to the UK in the 12 months to September 2017 had fallen below 100,000 for the first time in over 4 years. The figure was 90,000, down from approximately 165,000 the year before – a 45% fall.

A tough winter

Overall, 59% of the slow-down in population growth can be attributed to a decrease in migration, with the remainder a result of lower births and higher death rates. The increased death rate has been largely attributed to the tough winter, with a particularly nasty strain of influenza having a grave impact on the elderly.

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