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Number of new foreign workers rises 50pc in two years


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More than 40,000 foreign workers moved to Ireland to take up jobs in 2014, one of the highest rates in the EU, according to the new figures from Eurostat.

The bulk of the more than one million workers who moved across borders to take up work last year moved to lower unemployment regions including the UK and Germany.

New figures from the European statistics agency highlight the rise in the numbers of people seeking, and finding, work across borders in Europe in the wake of the financial crisis.

Last year 1.1 million people took up a new job in a country other than where they lived.

Ireland, despite its small size, is among the most popular destinations - attracting 40,000 new overseas workers last year, an increase of almost 50pc from 2012.

Of those on the move, 736,000 workers who migrated to or within European Union countries in the last two years were citizens of another member state, while around half as many came from outside the EU.

Most economic migrants did not move alone within or into the EU, however, bringing with them an additional 1.8 million family members in 2014.

The Irish figures reflect the current dynamic in the labour force here, with overseas workers coming to take up jobs in sectors where there are technical and skills shortages, even though unemployment rates overall remain high. In terms of people already living in the country, 13.5pc of EU citizens who have migrated to Ireland are unemployed, higher than the national average of just under 10pc.

The gap here compares favourably with other member states, where the employment rate for foreign citizens from another country within the EU was considerably higher than the rate for nationals. It was highest in Slovakia, Latvia and the UK where employment rates for EU immigrants ranged between 70 and 80pc. The highest jobless rates for foreign non-EU citizens were observed in Spain, Greece and Belgium, which were all above 30pc.

In total last year there were 15.2 million people living and working in an EU member state of which they were not a citizen, accounting for 7pc of total EU employment.

The highest proportions of foreign workers was recorded in Luxembourg, where just over half of the national workforce is made up of immigrants.

Compared to 2012, the total number of employed non-nationals who had recently moved from their native country to another member state increased by 12.4pc.

The EU labour force as a whole grew to 240 million last year; an increase of almost one million people since 2013. The number of people in employment swelled to 218 million.

The gap between the two figures, and uneven job rates across the EU has lead to an increase in the number of people leaving their homes to search for work abroad.

Irish Independent