Net migration from non-EU countries to the U.K. has overtaken net migration from the EU, according to new data released today by the Office for National Statistics.
The change is mainly due to “the large decrease in EU net migration over the last year,” ONS said in a press release.
The number of EU citizens coming to the U.K. over the past year totaled 220,000 — a drop of 47,000 from 2016. The number of EU citizens leaving Britain was 130,000 — the highest recorded level since 2008.
Non-EU citizens arriving in the U.K., meanwhile, totaled 285,000 last year — an increase of 26,000 from the previous year. Eighty thousand non-EU citizens left the U.K.
The drop in the number of EU citizens coming to the U.K. could not be attributed solely to Brexit, according to ONS, which said stronger economic growth in the eurozone over the past two to three years may also be helping EU citizens find work closer to home.
“The U.K. has become significantly less attractive to European migrants … and is likely to be one of the factors explaining the U.K.’s growth slowdown relative to the rest of Europe and the world,” said Jonathan Portes, a senior fellow at think tank U.K. in a Changing Europe.
“At a time when businesses in every part of the country are seeing record skills shortages, falls in the levels of migration from the EU, for whatever reason, will only exacerbate the problem,” Adam Marshall, director general of the British Chambers of Commerce, said in a statement. “The fact that skilled people are choosing not to come to the U.K. to work is a cause for real concern.”
ONS in November reported a record fall in net migration to the U.K., citing the number of EU nationals leaving the country as a significant factor.
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