Net migration at three-year low
Immigration falls as EU nationals leave after Brexit vote
Incomers are finding work across all sectors of the economy (photo by Terry Murden)
EU citizens returning home after the Brexit vote have contributed to a fall in Britain’s net migration.
More than half the total leaving the UK were EU nationals, the biggest drop coming from eight eastern European countries who arrived in Britain to seek better paid jobs.
According to the Office for National Statistics, net migration – the difference between those leaving and arriving – stood at 246,000, a fall of 81,000 arriving in Britain on the previous year.
Of these, 127,000 arrived from the EU, down 51,000, the lowest level since 2013, while the figure for the rest of the world was down by 14,000 to 179,000.
Of the non-British citizens who returned to their home countries, 44,000 were EU citizens – up 20,000 from the previous year – half of whom were from eight countries including Poland that joined the EU in 2004.
Business leaders expressed concern that the figures would lead to skills shortages and drive up wages.
Seamus Nevin, Head of Employment and Skills Policy at the Institute of Directors, said no one should celebrate the numbers.
“Given unemployment is currently at its lowest level ever (4.5%), without the 3 million EU citizens living here the UK would have an acute labour shortage. Signs that it is becoming a less attractive place to live and work are a concern,” he said.
But Migration Watch UK, said figures remained too high.
“This is a step forward but it is largely good fortune,” said Chairman Andrew Green. “This should not obscure the fact that migration remains at an unacceptable level of a quarter of a million a year with massive implications for the scale and nature of our society.”