The world financial crisis has led to a decline in migration and a sharp drop in people moving within the EU, according to the west’s leading economic thinktank.
The Paris-based Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) warned governments it was wrong to say migration, both legal and illegal, was “out of control”.
But immigrants have been hit hard by unemployment since the economic downturn and governments must address this problem or risk the “stigmatisation” of foreigners and social unrest.
The inflow of permanent immigrants to 24 OECD countries, including founder EU members, the US, Canada and Australia, fell by 7% in 2009. Much of this decline was the result of a 36% drop in “free-movement” migration within the EU between 2007 and 2009.
There was a drop in migration from new EU member countries, notably Romania, Poland and Bulgaria. The number of temporary workers also fell sharply, particularly seasonal low-skilled agricultural workers and fruit-pickers.
Seasonal migration dropped by 13% between 2008 and 2009, largely in Spain where people hit by the economic downturn took poorly paid, low-skilled work such as salad-picking, once only done by immigrants.
The growing economic power of China and India had led to more people emigrating for work. Chinese citizens are now the number one migrants to OECD countries, accounting for around 9% of all arrivals. They tended to move to Japan, Korea or Australia.