More Romanians and Bulgarians working in UK despite fewer EU employees overall
Figures on the employment of EU nationals in the UK have come under focus as the Brexit deadline looms.
The number of Romanians and Bulgarians working in the UK has risen to a record high, in contrast to a sharp drop in employees from other eastern European countries.
Official statistics show there were 391,000 Romanian and Bulgarian workers from April to June this year, an increase of 54,000 compared to the same period of 2017.
Romania and Bulgaria joined the EU in 2007, and restrictions on migrants from the two countries working in Britain were lifted in January 2014.
The increase is at odds with the trend in employment levels for nationals from other EU member states.
The number of people working in the UK from eight other eastern European countries that joined the EU in 2004 registered the largest annual fall since comparable records began.
Between April and June, there were 880,000 nationals from the so-called EU A8 nations – Czech Republic, Estonia, Hungary, Latvia, Lithuania, Poland, Slovakia and Slovenia. This was down by 117,000 from 997,000 a year earlier.
The number of nationals of 14 long-term EU member states including Germany, Italy, Spain and France working in the UK also fell year-on-year, decreasing by around 23,000 to just below one million.
2.28 million EU nationals were working in the UK for April to June 2018, 86,000 fewer than for a year earlier - the largest annual fall since records began in 1997 https://t.co/uzlnC9nEka pic.twitter.com/2ibsAHKYfq— ONS (@ONS) August 14, 2018
Overall, there were 2.28 million EU nationals working in the UK in the latest three-month period – 86,000 fewer than 12 months earlier and the largest annual fall since comparable records began in 1997.
Jonathan Portes, professor of economics at King’s College London, said: “Despite very low unemployment and high vacancy levels, the number of EU nationals working in the UK, especially from A8 countries, continues to fall – offset in part by rises in non-EU nationals and those from Bulgaria and Romania.
“This reflects Brexit uncertainty along with other factors such as the buoyant Polish economy.”
Data on employment levels by nationality have come under sharp focus since the EU referendum in June 2016.
Separate net migration figures have sparked claims of a “Brexodus”, but statisticians stressed that the estimates published on Tuesday do not measure flows of recent migrants to the UK.
Government officials are working to draw up post-Brexit arrangements which incorporate an end to free movement rules while ensuring that any fall in overseas labour does not damage the economy.
Analysis published last year showed EU migrants account for as many as one in 10 employees in some sectors.
Meanwhile, the new figures show a rise in the number of workers from the rest of the world.
There were 1.27 million non-EU nationals working in the UK in April to June, 74,000 more than a year earlier.
Lord Green of Deddington, chairman of Migration Watch UK, said: “Cries of woe at the departure of EU workers as a result of Brexit are clearly out of place.
“There are more EU nationals in our workforce now than there were just before the 2016 referendum.”
He said the number of non-EU workers is now at the highest level for nearly 10 years, adding: “The need for the Government to get a grip on immigration grows ever stronger.”