- There is rising evidence that European Union workers are leaving the UK because of Brexit.
- The Office for National Statistics on Tuesday said that there were 86,000 fewer EU nationals in jobs in the UK than at the same time last year.
- This is the largest fall on record.
- Workers from the A8 group of Eastern European nations are leaving at the fastest rate, the ONS said.
- While the ONS did not explicitly mention Brexit in its release, anti-Brexit campaign groups seized on the figures.
LONDON – Evidence is mounting that the United Kingdom’s impending exit from the European Union is causing workers from EU countries to leave the country and return home.
On Tuesday, the Office for National Statistics released its monthly snapshot of the UK jobs market, looking at the overall rate of employment and unemployment in the UK, as well as the growth of wages for workers.
The release, however, also included some startling figures about the number of EU nationals working in the UK, showing that workers from European Union countries are leaving the country at the fastest rate since the ONS started tracking such data.
Comparing the data period – April to June 2018 – with the same period last year, the ONS said that there were 86,000 fewer EU nationals in jobs in the UK. In total, 2.28 million EU nationals work in Britain.
86,000 out of 2.3 million may not seem a huge amount, but the ONS pointed out that it was “the largest annual fall since comparable records began in 1997.”>
Here’s the chart from the ONS, illustrating the size of the drop (the blue line shows EU nationals in the UK):
In particular, workers from the so-called A8 countries – Czech Republic, Estonia, Hungary, Latvia, Lithuania, Poland, Slovakia, and Slovenia – are leaving the UK.
Matt Hughes, a senior statistician at the ONS said in a statement that there had been a “noticeable drop over the past year in the number of workers from the so-called ‘A8’ eastern European countries in particular.” The number of A8 workers in the UK fell by 117,000.
These eight countries all joined the EU in 2004 and saw large numbers of citizens move to larger, more prosperous economies like Britain, France, and Germany.
Bulgarian and Romanian citizens, however, continue to come to the UK. “In contrast, the number of Romanian and Bulgarian nationals working in the UK has continued to increase reaching a record high of 391,000 in April to June 2018,” the ONS said.
Although the ONS did not specifically mention Brexit in its release, anti-Brexit groups quickly blamed the fall in EU workers on the impending exit from the EU.
“These figures show that Brexodus continues as people pack their bags and leave the UK. This should worry everyone,” a statement from Best for Britain said. “These EU nationals nurse our sick, care for our grandparents and help make Britain a more productive and prosperous country, but the government is pulling up the drawbridge as thousands of EU citizens worry about their future.”
While the number of EU nationals working in the UK is falling, the number of non-EU nationals continues to rise, the ONS noted. There were 74,000 more non-EU workers in the UK between April and June 2018, than during the same period last year.
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