OECD call for a focus on labour market policies to help refugees and improved actions to tackle illegal immigration

21 Jun 2018

According to the 2018 edition of International Migration Outlook, migration flows to OECD countries have decreased for the first time since 2011, with around 5 million new permanent migrants arriving in 2017, down from 5.3 million in 2016. 

The decrease is largely due to a decline in new asylum applications, with 1.2 million applications in OECD countries in 2017 compared to 1.6 million in 2016.  About half of asylum applications registered were registered in Europe in 2017, with increases recorded in the United States (+ 26%), Australia (+ 29%) and Canada (+ 112%). OECD member countries host approximately 6.4 million refugees, more than half of whom are in Turkey. The top three origin countries arriving in OECD countries were Afghanistan, Syria and Iraq. In 2017, the United States recorded the highest number of asylum applications in the OECD (330,000 applications), followed by Germany (198,000).

In 2017, 127 million foreign-born people were living in OECD countries, or 10% of the total population. In many OECD countries, migration has contributed to sustaining much needed labour force growth.

The report looks at changes in labour market outcomes of immigrants in OECD countries, with a focus on migrants’ job quality and on the sectors and occupations in which they are concentrated. It includes two special chapters on the contribution of recent refugee flows to the labour force and on the illegal employment of foreign workers.

Public opinion in many countries remains concerned about the impact on the labour market of the influx of new migrants and the effects of irregular migration. The report analyses, for the first time, the impact of the recent arrival of these refugees on the job markets of host countries. For European countries, the labour market impact of this refugee inflow will be small and concentrated on the working-age population, which would increase by no more than 0.4% by December 2020. Taking into account the low participation rates of refugees, the impact on the labour market as a whole would be more limited, at around 0.24%.

The report calls for OECD countries to improve coordination and coherence to tackle illegal employment of foreign workers by improving status verification systems as part of measures to prevent the illegal employment.  Stronger enforcement measures and better-designed legal labour migration channels were also recommended.

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