Sharp decline in number of migrant workers in South West

Their number has declined to 1,635 from 4,255 last year

7th July 2009: The number of migrant workers from Eastern Europe registering to work in the South West has registered a sharp decline. Recession in the UK is being cited as one of the factors responsible for the decline.

Even as reports suggest their contribution to the economy cannot be overlooked, the figures released from the Home Office worker registration scheme reveal 60 per cent fewer people registered for work in the first quarter of 2009.

Just 1,635 migrant workers registered, compared with 4,255 last year. Expressing concern, the Devon Race Equality Council says migrant workers still contribute significantly to the economy, as they pay taxes and take low-skill jobs some of the English people usually avoid. In fact, the migrant workers help fill in the gaps in the labour market, particularly in agriculture, food and meat processing sectors.

Spokeswoman Agnieszka Szpinda says as a result of the recession many now cannot find even low-skilled jobs and think this is the time to go back.

The assertion comes at a time when a paper published by the Institute for Public Policy Research (IPPR) says fears of migrants taking away the jobs and cutting pays are misplaced and wrong.

The report says there appears to be no evidence to suggest large-scale migration from Eastern Europe since 2004 has had any substantial negative impact on either wages or employment. Rather, the possibility of a small positive impact cannot be ruled out.

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