The latest figures from the Office for National Statistics (ONS) show net immigration remains high, but the scale of the inflow from the European Union has slowed — allowing workers’ pay to rise.
Standing at around 244,000 in the year ending September 2017, net immigration remains far above the ‘tens of thousands’ target the Tories first promised when they came into office in 2010 — without ever intending to deliver it, if former Chancellor of the Exchequer George Osborne is to be believed.
However, the vote to Leave the European Union, coupled with a fall in sterling, a partial recovery in the Eurozone, and growing economies in conservative Central Europe, has put a substantial dent in immigration from the European Union: it still stands at 90,000 net, but this is the first time it has dipped below 100,000 in many years.
Net migration is at a similar level to early 2014 with 244,000 more people coming to the UK than leaving, so migration is adding to the UK population https://t.co/cLspmrVTrb pic.twitter.com/g80KjFDPbi
— ONS (@ONS) February 22, 2018
The fall in net immigration EU has been driven by a drop in the number of EU migrants who come to Britain claiming they are “looking for work” — that is, showing up without a job to go to. This group is estimated to have decreased in size by around 35,000 people.
While bosses, particularly in sectors such as agriculture and hospitality, have been in overdriving warning that the economy will suffer if their access to low-pay, low-productivity foreign labour is curtailed by falls in immigration, the ONS has suggested that the slowdown in EU immigration could see wages rise, according to The Times.
Indeed, figures reported earlier this month suggest starting salaries are already on the rise — to workers’ joy and bosses’ chagrin.
Commenting on today's migration figures, @alpmehm, Vice Chair of MW, said: "There are still nearly 100,000 more EU citizens arriving than leaving. This is hardly a ‘Brexodus’. Overall net migration is still running at nearly a quarter of a million a year." https://t.co/kXrdNcHOxI
— Migration Watch UK (@MigrationWatch) February 22, 2018
However, the MigrationWatch UK think tank has cautioned the public against being taken in by claims on the BBC and other mainstream media of an EU exodus, noting that immigration from the bloc still remains high, and that immigration from outside the EU is actually up by another 40,000.
“There are still nearly 100,000 more EU citizens arriving than leaving. This is hardly a ‘Brexodus’,” commented Vice-chairman Alp Mehmet.
“The fall in overall net migration is welcome but it is still running at nearly a quarter of a million a year – far above the government’s target.
“This will mean building a city the size of Birmingham every two or three years.
“Brexit must further reduce net migration from the EU and the government must redouble its efforts to cut the net inflow of 200,000 from outside the EU.”
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