Sharp fall in net migration since EU referendum suggests Britain’s labour market is being reshaped even before Brexit arrives

Published on Jobs, Skills and Pay



A drop of over 100,000 in net migration over the last year shows that Britain’s labour market is already be reshaped before we leave the EU, and businesses need to start adjusting now to a new era of lower migration, the Resolution Foundation said today (Thursday) in response to the latest migration figures.

Net migration fell by a third to 230,000 in the 12 months to June (down from a peak of 336,000 the year before). EU migration accounted for over three-quarters of this fall, with the decline being driven by fewer EU job-seekers coming to the UK to find work.

The Foundation notes that this fall may be partly driven by improving job prospects in the Eurozone, where unemployment has just fallen to a nine-year low of 8.9 per cent.

Resolution Foundation analysis of more recent data has found that the recent fall in migrant workers has been especially pronounced in London and among EU-born graduates, while the number of low and mid-skilled EU migrant workers continues to rise.

Stephen Clarke, Economic Analyst at the Resolution Foundation, said:

“Brexit was always going to radically reshape Britain’s labour market, but today’s migration figures suggest that change is already playing out. EU citizens may well be reacting to the Brexit vote, but they are also making choices based on the relative value of the pound and better job prospects in Europe.

“The significant fall in EU migration will be felt most clearly in areas like London, and in industries like food manufacturing and hospitality which tend to have high levels of staff turnover and are heavily reliant on migrant labour.

“Businesses across Britain need to prepare now for a new era of lower migration. This could include finding new ways to recruit UK-born workers – no mean feat in an already tight labour market – reskilling existing staff, or investing in more productivity enhancing technology.”