The aim of this study was to examine the differential labour market effects from A8 migration on two contrasting city economies – Bristol and Hull. The research was conducted during October 2008 and January 2009 – a time when both labour markets underwent a significant contraction, as a result of the global downturn. By the end of January 2009, there were five Jobseeker’s Allowance (JSA) claimants for every job vacancy in Bristol, compared to 22 in Hull. For the first time, A8 migration is now taking place against the backdrop of increased competition for fewer jobs.
As the recession deepens, and job vacancy rates decline, the global downturn leads us to a very different labour market dynamic. Previously hard to fill vacancies are becoming less hard to fill, and the increase in JSA claimants – those who are both actively seeking and able to work – could lead to more direct interaction between A8 migrants and the newly unemployed. The economic impacts will, however, play out very differently in each city – depending on the type of migrants attracted, their length of stay, and the structure of the local economy.
There has been no exodus of migrants from either city in response to the recession, so far. In Hull, migrants are predominantly employed in factory work, channelled through recruitment agencies – which have prevented direct competition with the local workforce. In Bristol, there is greater evidence of settlement, and of migrants possessing higher level skills. Migrants are employed in a wider range of sectors, and utilise a variety of recruitment channels. Taken together, these factors could point to more direct competition with the local workforce for fewer jobs, relative to Hull, as the recession deepens.
All cities need to do more to understand and integrate A8 workers into their local economy.
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Policy and Research Manager