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Migrant labour levels fall as financial crisis shrinks job market | Immigration Matters

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An OECD report suggests migrants face stricter controls, lack of opportunities and a reduction in job security, the Guardian reports.

Immigration has dropped almost everywhere due to the financial crisis. According to the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development, the influx of permanent migrants (with a renewable residence permit) fell 7% in 2008 to 4.18 million. The number of temporary migrants (with a non-renewable permit) dropped 4% to 2.31 million.

However the number of families immigrating rose 3% and there was a 14% increase in asylum seekers, the OECD reported in its International Migration Outlook 2010.

The overall downward trend has been confirmed by provisional OECD figures for 2009, ending five years of steady increase (11% a year on average since 2003). The drop mainly concerns work-related migratory flows and reflects a sudden drop in jobs on offer, as in the US, or tighter controls: Spain has cut the list of trades with manpower shortages while South Korea has reduced its foreign immigrants quota.

In zones of free circulation such as the EU the drop is greater but better controlled. Immigrants are less reluctant to change plans or go home, because they know they can easily come back. In the case of permanent immigration, 20% of which is work-related, the biggest drops are in Spain, the Czech Republic, Italy and Ireland (respectively 43%, 27%, 26% and 24%). Other countries, such as Portugal, which experienced a 54% rise, felt the effects of the economic crisis later. There is less change in long-standing destinations, with immigration down 5% in the UK, down 2% in Germany and up 4% in France. Sweden is an exception, with applications for work permits up 30% in 2009 and an 85% success rate among these.

The US continued to attract migrants, up 5% in 2008 on the previous year. Immigration to Canada rose by 4% for the same period.

During a recession, foreign labour acts as a shock absorber in the jobs market. In 2008-09 unemployment among migrants rose in all OECD countries, prompting the organisation to condemn the disproportionate impact of the economic crisis on immigrant jobs. Women fare better, mainly because they are working in the social sector, which is usually less affected by the downturn. But in all cases, except in the UK, immigrants lose their jobs sooner than native workers.

Australia’s permanent skilled migration programme, cut by 14% to 115,000 places for 2008-09 due to the global crisis, shrank further in 2009-10 to 108,000 places, according to the OECD. To meet demand from firms it should rise again to 113,850 places for 2010-11, according to the department of immigration, yet the migration programme’s family stream is slated to lose almost 5,000 visas this year.

Above all the government has changed the list of critical trades. The new Skilled Occupation List focuses mainly on healthcare. Chefs, once in demand, are off the list.

There is another important change: “The government now prefers people sponsored by an employer. Unsolicited applications are rejected. I have clients who’ve been waiting for a reply for 18 months,” said John McQuaid, an immigration consultant in Sydney.

Source: The Guardian from articles which originally appeared in Le Monde.

See also:

Why the world wants to be Canadian

New guidance for Tier 2 employers on interim limit announced by UKBA

Keith Vaz MP critical of UK’s proposed immigration cap

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