Latest figures show the number of foreign-born workers in the UK rose by 431,000
The numbers from the Office for National Statistics provide more evidence of the impact of migration on the jobs market. Some 5.4 million people born abroad were employed in the UK by the end of 2016. And during last year, the number of British-born people in work fell by 120,000 to under 26.4 million.
The figures yesterday fuelled claims that the country’s jobs boom is being driven by migrant labour.
They also triggered warnings that the Government will face a huge challenge to meet the target of cutting annual net migration to the “tens of thousands” after Britain leaves the EU.
The update on changes in employment levels in the last three months of 2016 was revealed in the latest Labour Force Survey.
Figures showed that the number of citizens from other EU countries working in the UK fell slightly between October and December, down by 19,000 to 2.2 million. It was the first fall in EU workers over a three-month period in more than two years.
Yet the total number of people from other EU member states was still up by 190,000 over last year. And the number of workers born in Romania and Bulgaria working in the UK rose by 90,000 to 305,000 last year.
These figures lay bare that this and previous governments have failed the people of the UK
Andrew Charalambous, Ukip
In the three months to the end of December the number of people born in the two eastern European nations getting work here rose by 26,000.
Restrictions on people from the two countries working in the UK were lifted in January 2014. Campaigners said the latest job figures emphasised the need to protect British workers from EU free movement.
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Some 5.4 million people born abroad were employed in the UK by the end of 2016
Alanna Thomas of the population think tank Migration Watch, said: “Despite all the talk about uncertainty facing workers from the EU during the year of the renegotiation and the referendum, these latest employment figures show that the number of EU-born workers in the UK rose by a further 188,000 over the year to 2.3 million.
“The number of Romanians and Bulgarians working here has topped 300,000 for the first time, a rise of 90,000. These figures demonstrate that the UK continues to be a magnet for workers from elsewhere in the EU.”
Andrew Charalambous, Ukip’s work and pensions spokesman, said: “These figures lay bare that this and previous governments have failed the people of the UK.
“By importing workers, they are merely dodging the bullet that decades of failed aspiration in our schools and educational establishments has created.”
According to the figures, there were more than 1.3 million workers from eastern Europe in employment in Britain at the end of last year. That total had increased by 139,000 over the preceding 12 months.
There were also 930,000 nationals from 14 Western EU countries including France, Germany and Italy working in Britain at the end of last year. The figures also showed there were more than 3.2 million people born in countries outside the EU working in the UK by the end of last year, up by 242,000 over the 12-month period.
And while the numbers in work from other EU nations fell slightly between last October and December, the numbers of people born in countries outside the EU increased by 41,000 over the same period.
The figures fuelled claims that Britain's jobs boom is being fuelled by foreign labour
Around 888,000 of the workers born overseas were from Africa, including 163,000 from South Africa. A total of 463,000 born in India and 354,000 born in Pakistan and Bangladesh had jobs in Britain at the end of last year.
The proportion of people working in the UK accounted for by non-UK nationals has increased from 3.8 per cent to 10.9 per cent since 1997. Experts said the figures suggested there was little evidence of significant numbers of foreign workers leaving Britain since last year’s referendum vote to quit the EU.
The number of EU workers fell by 19,000 to 2.2million between October and December
Dr John Philpott, director of The Jobs Economist, said: “There is little sign that the labour market is yet being affected by an exodus of EU-born workers following the EU referendum result. Given seasonal factors, the level of EU-born people working in the UK was more or less flat in the second half of last year. While this may suggest the UK is no longer the draw it once was for EU migrants, Brexit has yet to trigger a big EU labour exit.”
Office for National Statistics senior statistician David Freeman said: “The data on non-UK nationals and non-UK born workers is not seasonally adjusted, so the small drop in the number of workers born in other EU countries, and small rise in the number of non-EU-born workers should be treated with caution.”