Headlines: March 16th, 2009

A report out today says the recession is changing the dynamic between local labour markets and migrants from the new European Union countries. The study by Centre for Cities was conducted in Hull and Bristol and found there no signs yet of a mass exodus of immigrants.

Centre for Cities says the economic situation is changing the tone of the migration debate with migration from the so-called A8 states happening for the first time in a climate of increased competition for fewer jobs. Over the past year job vacancies across the UK have fallen by 30 per cent to 479,000. In January there were 22 people on Jobseeker’s Allowance for every job vacancy in Hull and 5 receiving the benefit for every vacancy in Bristol. So far there is no sign of the workers leaving and in Bristol more of them are settling longer term into already established communities.

On the question of whether the migrants are ‘taking British jobs’ the report says they are working mostly in warehouses or processing plants, as packers, mechanics or on production lines. They are being channeled into these jobs through migrant recruitment agencies. It says two parallel job markets have emerged in Bristol with one dominated by long-term residents. There is a warning that unless these are brought together, the city’s economy will be held back over the long term. Similarly, it says, many of the jobs currently taken by migrants in Hull could see interest from long-term city residents.

Centre for Cities Director Dermot Finch said, “Over the past five years, the UK economy has benefited hugely from A8 migration. Workers from Eastern Europe have filled skills shortages and helped businesses grow. But the recession is now starting to change the dynamic between A8 migrants and local labour markets.”