75% of East Europeans and 30% of EU14 workers in low skilled work

May 20, 2015

Three quarters of all East European workers who have arrived since their countries joined the EU are working in low skilled work, so says a Migration Watch UK analysis of the Labour Force Survey.

The analysis finds that in early 2014 there were 870,000 workers from the Accession countries of Eastern Europe (including Romania and Bulgaria) in the labour market and almost three quarters, or 630,000, were in low skilled work, as defined by the government’s Migration Advisory Committee. Remarkably, about half of these (almost 320,000) are in the very lowest skilled occupations.

This analysis goes some way in explaining why East European migrants’ impact on GDP per capita is likely to continue to be ‘negligible’ at best, in line with previous modelling by the National Institute for Economic and Social Research. It also explains why the fiscal contribution of East Europeans has been, even on the most favourable assumptions, at best very low. [ See Migration Watch UK, ‘Response to UCL paper on the fiscal effects of immigration to the UK’, December 2014, URL: http://www.migrationwatchuk.org/briefing-paper/1.41 , paragraphs 12-14 and Figures 1-3. ] The reason is of course that, while East Europeans have very high employment rates (84% of EU8 and 77% of Romanians and Bulgarians are in work) they are working for low pay in low skilled jobs.

By contrast, EU 14 migrants are much more in highly skilled work with 70% in skilled occupations compared to 55% of UK born. Taking all EU migrants together, 750,000 of the 1.27 million are in low skilled work – that is nearly 60%.

Commenting, Lord Green of Deddington, Chairman of Migration Watch UK, said:

“This analysis clearly demonstrates that some means must be found to curb low skilled immigration from the EU if immigration is to be brought under control. East European workers have a very good reputation for their work ethic but the fact that they are so overwhelmingly in low skilled work raises real questions about their value to the UK economy. Meanwhile, they add considerably to the pressure on public services, especially in the areas where they are concentrated.”

Read the full briefing paper here

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