UK Net Immigration Slips to Lowest since 2012 ahead of Brexit
Net EU immigration to the UK stood at around 90,000 for the year between March 2017 and March 2018, the lowest figure since 2012, as Brexit, Britain’s departure from the EU, is rapidly approaching.
The newly released data from the British Office of National Statistics (ONS) shows a steady decline in UK’s net immigration, as in July, it published the figures for 2017 (January – December) when the net immigration from the EU stood at 101,000.
Fewer EU citizens appear to be arriving to Britain for work, and much of the decline is due to the citizens of other Western European countries.
In another seeming ramification of the Brexit referendum, 2017 also saw a record number of British citizens acquire citizenship of another EU member state.
There are about 3.5 million EU citizens living in the UK, and some 1.1 million Brits living in the rest of the EU.
According to the ONS data, there were 2.28 million EU nationals employed in the UK between April and June 2018, a decline by 86,000 year-on-year.
The drop in the second quarter of 2018 is the steepest since data collection began to measure the number of EU citizens working in Britain back in 1997.
The British statistical service also noted that the number of EU citizens coming to the UK specially to look for work declined by more than a half between 2016 and 2017.
The decline is also visible among the citizens of the eight Eastern European counties which joined the EU in 2004 (Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania, Poland, the Czech Republic, Slovakia, Hungary, Slovenia, and Cyprus).
Migrants are said to be deterred by the weaker pound sterling, and the likelihood of immigration restrictions after the UK leaves the EU in March 2019 despite assurances by the British government.
The figures show that the Brexit vote has damaged the UK’s labor supply, according to JPMorgan economist Allan Monks, as cited by Bloomberg.
The Bank of England has noted that the effect of the Brexit referendum on immigration is one of the reasons why potential GDP growth has dropped to 1.5%.
“Severely reducing the number of EU workers coming to the UK will make British firms less competitive which will dampen growth and limit national prosperity for us all,” said Tom Hadley, director of policy at the Recruitment and Employment Confederation.
“For our jobs market to thrive, UK employers need a comprehensive mobility and migration deal with the EU post-Brexit,” he added.
The UK’s agricultural sector is especially fearful of labor shortages as pickers from Romania and Bulgaria might decide to steer clear of the country after Brexit.
Regardless of the decline in EU immigration to Britain, the UK still received some 270,000 more people thanks to arrivals from other parts of the world so net migration continues to swell the country’s population.
(Banner image: Pixabay)