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Fewer workers coming from Eastern Europe

20 May 2009

New figures show that the number of people coming to the UK from Eastern Europe to work has fallen to the lowest level since 2004.

Applications from workers in Poland, Lithuania, Latvia, Hungary, Slovakia, Slovenia, Estonia and the Czech Republic dropped to 23,000 in the first three months of 2009, compared to 48,755 during the same period in 2008. The numbers are at their lowest since these countries joined the EU in 2004.

The number of Bulgarian and Romanian applicants has also fallen to the lowest level since they joined the EU in 2007.

Younger workers 

The statistics showed that the majority of workers coming from Eastern Europe were young: 

  • 78% were aged between 18 and 34
  • only 8% said they had dependants living with them in the UK 
  • 84% of those registered were working for more than 35 hours per week.

Immigration levels balancing out

Border and Immigration Minister Phil Woolas said, ‘Today’s figures show that immigration levels are balancing as more Eastern Europeans are now leaving the UK to return home. This suggests that increasing prosperity in post Soviet Eastern Europe in the long term can only be beneficial for the UK.’

Asylum figures

Applications for asylum increased from 6595 in the first quarter of 2008, to 8380 in the same period of 2009, mainly driven by Zimbabwean applications.

Although applications have increased, asylum intake has remained broadly at the same level over the past four years and the statistics show that the UK continues to receive fewer applications per head of the population than many of its European counterparts.

Learn more

You can download the accession monitoring report (new window) on the UK Border Agency website.

You can also read the latest Bulgarian and Romanian accession statistics (new window) on the UK Border Agency website.

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