Rise in migration, drop in jobs hurting

A new study by the Paris-based Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) finds that while migration from the Caribbean and other countries is increasing, rising unemployment is hurting immigrants.

The OECD’s “2013 International Migration Outlook” says that migration into OECD countries rose by 2 percent in 2011 from the previous year, to reach almost 4 million. Recent national data suggest a similar increase in 2012.

“Governments must do everything they can to improve immigrants’ job prospects,” urged OECD Secretary General Angel Gurría in presenting the recent report in Brussels, Belgium with European Union (EU) Commissioner for Employment, Social Affairs & Inclusion László Andor and EU Commissioner for Home Affairs Cecilia Malmström.

“Tackling high and long-term unemployment now is essential,” Gurría added. “Continuing to help immigrants integrate will also ensure they can play their part in driving growth as the global economy recovers.”

The report says that migration within the EU rose by 15 percent, following a decline of almost 40 percent during the EU crisis.

But the “2013 International Migration Outlook” says the job market situation has worsened sharply for immigrants, with unemployment rising by almost five percentage points between 2008 and 2012, compared with a three-point jump among the native-born.

It says immigrant youth and the low-skilled have been worst hit, with the impact strongest on migrants from Latin America and the Caribbean and North Africa.

Long-term unemployment has risen sharply among migrants, he report says, pointing out that the share of unemployed immigrants in OECD countries who have been out of work for more than a year increased from 31 percent in 2008 to 44 percent in 2012.

“Cash-strapped governments should avoid cutting systematically on integration programs, but concentrate on measures that provide the largest pay off, such as language and professional training, and focus on the most vulnerable groups, such as migrant youth,” says the OECD in a statement.

In analyzing the fiscal impact of immigration, the report says that raising the employment levels of migrants to that of the native-born would generate “significant economic returns.”

The report also finds that the current impact of the cumulative waves of migration of the past 50 years is close to zero on average in the OECD.

It says work is the main determinant of migrants’ fiscal contribution, and that fighting discrimination is “essential” in achieving this.

The report assesses the level of discrimination across countries, finding its extent “much higher than previously thought.

“Generally, a person with an immigrant-sounding name, for example, has to send at least twice as many applications to get a job interview than one with a non-immigrant name,” the report says.

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