Migration picking up but rising unemployment hurting immigrants
13/06/2013 - Migration has started to pick up again, driven largely by people moving within the European Union, after three years of continuous decline during the crisis. But the employment prospects for immigrants have worsened, with around one in two unemployed immigrants in Europe still looking for work after more than 12 months, according to a new OECD report.
The 2013 International Migration Outlook says that migration into OECD countries rose by 2% in 2011 from the previous year, to reach almost 4 million. Recent national data suggest a similar increase in 2012.
“Governments must do everything they can to improve immigrants’ job prospects,” said OECD Secretary General Angel Gurría, presenting the report in Brussels, with EU Commissioner for Employment, Social Affairs & Inclusion László Andor and EU Commissioner for Home Affairs Cecilia Malmström. “Tackling high and long-term unemployment now is essential. Continuing to help immigrants integrate will also ensure they can play their part in driving growth as the global economy recovers.”
Migration within the European Union rose by 15%, following a decline of almost 40% during the crisis. The trend of people leaving countries hardest hit by the crisis is accelerating, up by 45% from 2009 to 2011.
The number of Greeks and Spaniards moving to other EU countries has doubled since 2007, reaching 39,000 and 72,000 respectively. Germany saw a 73% increase of Greek immigrants between 2011 and 2012, close to 50% for Spanish and Portuguese nationals and 35% for Italians.
Migration to the United States remained steady in 2011, rising by 2%. Italy saw a fall of the number of immigrants of 11% and immigration levels there are now 44% lower than in 2007.
But the job market situation has worsened sharply for immigrants, with unemployment rising by almost five percentage points between 2008 and 2012, compared with a 3 point jump among the native-born. Immigrant youth and the low-skilled have been worst hit. The impact was strongest on migrants from Latin America and North Africa.
Long-term unemployment has risen sharply among migrants. The share of unemployed immigrants in OECD countries who have been out of work for more than a year increased from 31% in 2008 to 44% in 2012. Cash-strapped governments should avoid cutting systematically on integration programmes, but concentrate on measures that provide the largest pay off, such as language and professional training, and focus on the most vulnerable groups, such as migrant youth, says the OECD.
The report analyses the fiscal impact of immigration. It says that raising the employment levels of migrants to that of the native-born would generate significant economic returns, especially in countries such as Belgium, France and Sweden with large, established immigrant populations. It also finds that the current impact of the cumulative waves of migration of the past fifty years is close to zero on average in the OECD. Work is the main determinant of migrants’ fiscal contribution, it says.
Fighting discrimination is essential to achieve this, says the OECD. The report assesses the level of discrimination across countries and finds its extent much higher than previously thought. Generally, a person with an immigrant-sounding name, for example, has to send at least twice as many applications to get a job interview than one with a non-immigrant name.
For further information, journalists are invited to contact Jean-Christophe Dumont (tel. 33 1 45 24 92 43) in the OECD’s International Migration Division. Journalists are invited to download the report from the password protected site or they can contact the OECD’s Media Division firstname.lastname@example.org.