One in seven of the millions of working-age European Union (EU) migrants in the UK are out of work – more than the population of a city the size of Coventry or Leicester.
Of the 2,733,000 EU migrants aged between 16 and 64 in the UK last year, a total of 390,000 were unemployed or “inactive”, new figures from the Office of National Statics (ONS) reveal.
The economically inactive – who are retired, disabled, or carers – made up 288,000 of the figure and the other 100,000 were unemployed.
All of the unemployed will be eligible for jobseeker’s allowance, housing benefit, and child benefit. Those who are “inactive” include many claiming disability benefits.
“We fully recognise the benefits EU nationals bring to Britain – and we want to maintain the inflow of skilled workers – but the man in the street will be alarmed that there are so many EU citizens without a job, potentially claiming benefits and competing with them for jobs.
“The Government must seize the opportunities from Brexit and ensure we freeze unskilled migration for five years. Too many wages have been depressed and too many jobs displaced for this uncontrolled immigration to continue.”
Of 3.4m non-UK nationals in the labour market, 701,000 work in 'Public administration, education and health': https://t.co/Lx8cugM4gE
— ONS (@ONS) April 12, 2017
In total, there were 3.4 million non-UK nationals in the labour market, making up 11 per cent of the total workforce – seven per cent from the EU and four per cent from outside. 701,000 of them work in critical “public administration, education and health” jobs.
The EU workers roughly divided between those from Western Europe – who were highly educated and well paid – and those from the East, who did more menial jobs.
Those from the original EU member states, such as Germany and France, earned an average of £12.59 an hour, compared with UK national average earnings of £11.30 an hour. Those from Eastern Europe earned £8.33 an hour on average.
Some sectors, such as wholesale, retail, and manufacturing, are particularly reliant on migrant labour.
Alp Mehmet, Vice Chairman of Migration Watch UK, said: “Today’s release confirms that some sectors of the economy employ large numbers of EU migrants… business must now focus on recruiting and training from the domestic workforce and wean itself off the cheaper East European option.
“Employers should turn to overseas workers only when they face genuine skills or labour shortages.
“Work permits confined to those offered skilled work on the same basis that applies to non-EU nationals could achieve a reduction of around 100,000 a year; this would go a long way towards delivering on the government’s promise to reduce overall net migration.”