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New data on Romanians and Bulgarians in the UK is valuable first step but does not answer key questions

14 May 2014

The number of Romanian and Bulgarian (A2) people employed in the UK increased by more than 28,000 compared to the same period last year, the Office for National Statistics (ONS) announced today, but decreased in the period after January 1st – when labour market controls were relaxed.

However it is too early to know what the long-term implications of lifting these restrictions will be, the Migration Observatory at Oxford University said today.

The figures, from the first three months (Q1) of 2014 show an increase of more than 28,000 A2 migrants employed in the UK (including self employed) on the same period of 2013. However between the first quarter and the last quarter of 2013 – before transitional labour market controls were lifted, on January 1 2014 – this group had increased in size by 32,000. This means that the 28,000 increase announced today represents a slight decline on the previous quarter (Q4 2013).

Until now there has been a consistent pattern of increased numbers of A2 migrants working in the UK in the first quarter of each year, compared to the last quarter of the previous year, in every year except one (2009-10) since the two countries joined the EU in 2007. This Q4-Q1 increase has regularly exceeded 10,000, and sometimes (2010-11) exceeded 20,000 despite the transitional controls being in place.

Dr Carlos Vargas-Silva, Senior researcher at the Migration Observatory at the University of Oxford said: “The changes that we see in today’s data cannot really be seen as a result of the end of controls on the employment opportunities of A2 migrants. It is important that we see this data for what it is – an important first step in understanding how A2 migration is changing – but until we have complete data for 2014 it is impossible to achieve any definite conclusions about the impact of the end of restrictions.”

Ends

For further information contact:
Rob McNeil Head of Media and Communications, The Migration Observatory at the University of Oxford.
e: robert.mcneil@compas.ox.ac.uk; Tel: 01865 274568; Mob: 07500 970081

Related material
Migration Observatory commentary – A2 migration to Britain after transitional restrictions: The first piece of evidence
Migration Observatory commentary – Jumping the gun: Wait for the facts before estimating Romanian and Bulgarian migration

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