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Workers in UK from eight Eastern European nations up by 46,000

Published 16/11/2016

New figures show the number of EU citizens working in the UK
New figures show the number of EU citizens working in the UK

The number of EU workers from eight Eastern European countries in the UK increased by nearly 50,000 after the referendum, new figures show.

However, the data revealed a mixed picture as numbers of those from other parts of the union in employment in Britain fell in the wake of the poll.

Labour market data shows an estimated 1,053,000 people from a group of eight states which joined the EU in 2004 were employed in the three months to September.

This was an increase of around 46,000 compared to the previous quarter, when the number passed one million for the first time.

The figures relate to the so-called A8 nations - Czech Republic, Estonia, Hungary, Latvia, Lithuania, Poland, Slovakia and Slovenia.

By contrast, the number of employees from 14 other EU member states including Italy, Portugal, Spain and France showed a quarterly fall for the first time in two years, down from 944,000 to 937,000.

And the number of Romanian and Bulgarian workers also dipped, falling from 266,000 in the three months to June to 258,000 in the most recent quarter. Restrictions on people from the two countries working in the UK were lifted in January 2014.

Overall, the number of non-UK nationals from the EU working in this country was up by 221,000 to 2.26 million compared to the equivalent period last year.

Statisticians say the estimates relate to the number of people in employment and should not be used as a proxy for flows of foreign migrants into the UK.

The Office for National Statistics said evidence suggests the referendum outcome has had little impact so far on the number of EU workers in the UK labour force.

Authoritative data on the flow of foreign workers will not be available until migration figures are published in February, the ONS added.

Madeleine Sumption, director of the Migration Observatory at the University of Oxford, said: "While we are all keen to read the tea leaves of the employment statistics to get some clues about how migrants are responding to Brexit, the figures don't yet provide a clear picture.

"There is no evidence at this point of either an increase or decrease in EU migration or employment due to Brexit.

"In fact, it could be many months before there is enough data to get a good sense of whether migration has changed meaningfully following the referendum."

Lord Green of Deddington, chairman of campaign group Migration Watch UK, said: "This is yet another large increase in the labour force driven by an increase in foreign workers. That increase amounts to just over a million in three years.

"This continuing influx helps explain why the British people voted for Brexit and is a sharp reminder that the forthcoming negotiations must get these numbers down."

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