Number of EU citizens moving to work in UK up by almost 20%

by Ray Clancy on December 1, 2015

People from European Union countries moving to the UK are increasingly finding jobs, indicating the myth that they are moving to the country for the social benefits is off the mark.

The latest official figures from the Office of National Statistics (ONS) shows that while the number of EU citizens working in the UK has now passed two million for the first time, employment is up by almost 20%.

EUcountriesOverall, the data shows that between July and September there were 31.3 million people in work, up 1.4% on the same period last year, but a breakdown of the figures shows that most of the increase is accounted for by rising employment among EU migrants.

Among UK nationals, the figure was up 0.4% or 122,000 people, to 28.09 million. But among EU nationals it was up 19.1% or 324,000 to 2.03 million, the largest jump since data was first kept in 1997.

Although more than half of EU citizens moving to the UK are from Eastern Europe, a significant number have moved from countries like France and Italy where the economies are stagnant and even Spain where the economy is improving.

The number of workers from Poland and seven other former Eastern Bloc countries that joined the EU in 2004 reached 975,000, an annual rise of 16%, the ONS data shows. There has also been a 20% rise in Romanian and Bulgarian citizens who have had full freedom of movement and access to work since January 2014 and are up by 200,000.

However, the sharpest rise was among citizens from other EU states such as Spain, Italy and Greece, which saw an increase of 155,000, or 23%.

Overall employment in the UK has risen by 430,000 to more than 31 million and these encouraging figures are likely to make the country a magnet for workers from around the EU where other economies are not doing as well and employment is falling rather than rising.

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