Migration in a crisis

Migration into OECD countries fell by about 7% in 2009 to 4.3 million people, down from just over 4.5 million in 2008. Recent national data suggest migration numbers fell further in 2010, the 2011 International Migration Outlook says.

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The decline is particularly marked in Asian OECD countries and in Europe, notably the Czech Republic, Ireland, Italy, Spain and Switzerland. Movement between EU member states fell by 22% in 2009. But permanent migration to Australia, Canada and the US rose slightly.

The drop in migration coincided with declining job opportunities from the economic crisis. Temporary labour migration declined by 17% in 2009. Young immigrants have been especially hard hit by job losses, as have workers in construction, finance and retail. However, immigrant employment has risen in education, health, long-term care and domestic services. More migrant women have also joined the labour force, compensating for job losses among male migrants, the OECD report says.

Still, given the severity of the crisis, migration fell less than expected, the OECD believes, probably because ageing and falling fertility rates propped up demand for skilled and unskilled workers. The report makes four key recommendations to help governments improve management of migration flows: convince the public about the facts- most migrants are well integrated in OECD societies; broaden co-operation with origin countries and employers; strengthen integration efforts; and guarantee equal rights by encouraging naturalisation.


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