More than 68% of migrants are employed across OECD countries – and Australia is one of the top countries temporary workers are flocking to

Australia is one of the top OECD countries that takes in temporary labour migrants.
  • Australia is one of top OECD countries that takes in temporary labour migrants.
  • A new report from the OECD found that the number of migrants to OECD countries rose 2% in 2018, compared to 2017.
  • The number of temporary labour migrants also rose to 4.9 million in 2017, compared to 4.4 million in 2016.

Migration to OECD countries has risen.

A new report from the Organisation for Economic Development (OECD) found that the number of migrants to OECD countries rose to around 5.3 million in 2018, a 2% rise from 2017.

The OECD is made up of 36 member countries across North and South America, Europe and Asia-Pacific that work together on a range of social, economic and environmental issues.

The OECD International Migration Outlook 2019 report noted that the US remains the largest single destination country for migrants, followed by Germany.

But when it came to asylum applications to OECD countries, the numbers dropped significantly. Applications went down to 1.09 million in 2018, 35% fewer than the record high of 1.65 million requests sent through in both 2015 and 2016.

The report also found that temporary labour migration rose significantly in 2017, reaching 4.9 million, compared to 4.4 million in 2016. It is the highest level since the OECD began reporting the numbers more than 10 years ago.

Australia was one of the top 10 OECD countries that received temporary workers in 2017, with 400,000 workers coming to Australia. At the top of the list was Poland, followed by the USA, Germany and then Australia. The top 10 countries took in 3.9 million temporary labour migrants in 2017, 80% of the OECD’s total.

Image OECD.

“Improvements in the employment of recent immigrants have been stronger in countries where employment rates were relatively high, such as Ireland or the United Kingdom,” the report said.

The organisation found that temporary migrants make a “sizeable” contribution to OECD countries. The report noted that on average, more than 68% of migrants are employed across OECD countries and their unemployment rate is below 9%.

“The significant increase in temporary labour migration is a sign of the dynamism in OECD labour markets but also of their integration,” OECD Secretary-General Angel Gurría, said at the launch in Paris. “Temporary migrants bring skills and competences that are needed by employers.”

In 2018, Australia introduced reforms to the temporary visa programs. It launched the Temporary Skill Shortage visa – which replaced the 457 Temporary work skilled visa – to allow employers to sponsor a skilled worker if they can’t find a local person for the role.

The Refugee Council of Australia noted the economic impact of migration flows through into every aspect of Australia’s economy.

“It has a profound positive impact not just on population growth, but also on labour participation and employment, on wages and incomes, on our national skills base and on net productivity,” Migration Council of Australia Policy Analyst Henry Sherrell said in statement.

For example, a 2018 Australian government report into immigration cited the International Monetary Fund, which estimated that “Australia’s current migration program will add between 0.1 and 1 percentage points to annual average GDP growth” between 2020 to 2050.

And while politicians, such as immigration minister Peter Dutton, have stoked fears that temporary workers will take the jobs of locals in Australia, a 2019 report from the Committee for Economic Development of Australia (CEDA) noted that “recent waves of migrants have not had an adverse impact on the wages or jobs of local workers.”

But despite the positive impacts of migrants and temporary workers in Australia, there seems a reluctance to allow them to enter the country in recent times compared to in 2017. In March 2019, the government cut its annual immigration cap from 190,000 to 160,000.