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A partnership project delivered by Welsh Refugee Council, COMPAS and the Migration Observatory. Funded by Welsh Government.

Author(s): 
Dr Yvonni Markaki and Dr Carlos Vargas-Silva
Current Revision (Date): 
March 2016

View Revision Notes »

Notes: To ensure information contained in the reports reflects the latest available evidence, this series of Migration Trends Reports is being updated on a six-monthly basis for the duration of the Migration Services in Wales project (ending March 2017). Updates are made to each report taking into account new releases on the various sources of data used in the reports.

This report is the first of three migration trends reports to be produced as part of the Migration Services in Wales project, providing quantitative analysis on migration in Wales. The report provides an overview of the key characteristics and labour market outcomes of working age migrants in the Welsh labour market. The discussion begins with a summary of the main demographics of non-UK born and non-UK nationals who live in Wales and continues with an analysis of data on employment, earnings, occupations and industries.

Key Points

  • The number and population share of working age non-UK born residents in Wales has increased in the past decade from 89,000 in the mid-2000s to 149,000 in 2015 (5% of the working age population in mid-2000s to 8% in 2015).
  • Working-age residents in Wales who are born outside the EU remain the largest non-UK born group at 54% of all foreign born (2015).
  • Individuals born outside the UK represent a smaller proportion of those in any form of paid work in the Welsh labour market (8%) compared to the whole of the UK (16%).
  • In 2015, 57% of non-UK born and 61% of UK-born who lived in Wales were employees. For the same year, only 9% of UK-born and 11% of non-UK born in Wales reported being self-employed.
  • In 2015 about 19% of non-UK born residents in Wales worked in elementary occupations compared to 12% of those born in the UK.
  • A large proportion of non-UK born residents in Wales work in public administration, education, and the health sectors (34% of non-UK born), as well as in distribution, hotels and restaurants (20% of non-UK born).

Understanding the Evidence

Definitions have a significant impact on the analysis of the number and characteristics of working age migrants in Wales. In most cases, this report defines the migrant population as the non-UK born population. There is no information on place of birth within the UK for the UK-born or place of first arrival for those born outside of the UK. Therefore, those born outside of Wales but within the UK are considered UK-born in this analysis. Wherever relevant and indicated, the briefing also provides data on non-UK nationals residing in Wales. There is significant overlap between those who belong to the non-UK born group and those who belong to the non-UK national group, but many non-UK born individuals are UK nationals and many UK born individuals are non-UK nationals.

All data in this briefing is taken from the four quarters of the Labour Force Survey (LFS). Unlike other data sources, such as the Census of England and Wales, the LFS provides regularly updated information on the number and characteristics of workers in Wales. The LFS is a UK wide quarterly survey of 60,000 individuals. A share of those interviewed for the LFS are of working age and reside in Wales (about 5% each year), and a proportion of the Wales working age residents interviewed are non-UK born (about 6% each year, rising to 7% in 2014).

Although the LFS is helpful and provides frequently updated information, its sample size limits the detail it can provide. The reader should note that, due to sampling limitations, the characteristics of non-UK born people in Wales are not considered in detail e.g. by age. As a result, the Census is a more reliable source for detailed statistics with breakdowns by local areas, all age groups, countries of birth, passports held and languages spoken. For more information on the migrant population in Wales, please see the Wales 2011 Census Profile. The Maps section of the Migration Observatory website also provides a wide range of maps at local authority level using 2011 Census data for England and Wales.

The characteristics of all non-UK born workers living in Wales are inferred from the responses of those non-UK born Wales residents who are interviewed. This means that while the estimates presented in this briefing are the best possible estimates, these are still subject to margins of error. Readers should exercise caution when comparing figures over time or between groups, as the differences may to an extent be driven by sample variation and not be statistically significant. We use the latest available calendar year for which data is available, 2014, and compare it to the average for the years 2004-2007 and 2010-2011 to highlight changes over time. Pooling together the earlier survey years expands the Welsh survey sample size and improves the reliability of the information presented.

This briefing includes both men and women aged between 16 and 64 years old, working both part-time and full-time. The average annual wages are estimated for all those respondents of the LFS who are employees and those on a government scheme. Salary figures include wages from the main and secondary jobs.

In UK immigration debates, mobile EU citizens are a key group as they enjoy free movement within the European Union and the government cannot limit their rights to live and work in the UK in the same way that it does for non-EU citizens. The boundaries of the EU have changed significantly in the previous decades. A brief timeline of EU expansions follows:

  • Members pre-2004: EU15 (Austria, Belgium, Denmark, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Ireland, Italy, Luxembourg, the Netherlands, Portugal, Spain, Sweden, United Kingdom)
  • 2004 expansion: A8 plus Malta and Cyprus (Czech Republic, Estonia, Hungary, Latvia, Lithuania, Poland, Slovakia, Slovenia)
  • 2007 expansion: A2 (Bulgaria and Romania)
  • 2013 expansion: Croatia

To facilitate the analysis and allow for more consistent classifications over time, breakdowns by country of birth or nationality include:

  1. EU14 (EU15 except UK),
  2. Accession (joined 2004-2013),
  3. other non-EU countries grouped together.

Basic Demographic Characteristics

The number and population share of working age non-UK born persons in Wales has increased in the past decade from 89,000 in 2004-07 to 149,000 in 2015.

Figure 1 shows the number of working age non-UK born people who live in Wales by gender. The number of working age non-UK born residents in Wales was approximately 149,000 in 2015, up by 21% since 2010-11 and 67% since 2004-07. The share of migrants in the overall working age population was estimated 5% in 2004-07 and 8% in 2015. Increases in the number of non-UK born working age people who live in Wales over time are similar across genders, while women make up just over half of working age migrants (79,000 in 2015).

The overall upward trend over time in foreign-born residents in Wales is also corroborated by more reliable Census data for 2001 and 2011 (92,263 non-UK born in 2001 Census versus 167,871 non-UK born in 2011 Census, for more details see here). However, caution should be taken when using survey information to infer on changes over time for particular subgroups, such as across genders, different countries of birth or types of employment.

Figure 1:

Working-age residents in Wales who are born outside the EU remain the largest non-UK born group at 66% of all foreign born

Figure 2 shows the number of non-UK born working age residents in Wales by country of birth. The number of EU14 born working age Wales residents stood at 25,000 in 2010-11, 21,000 in 2014, and 30,000 in 2015. The number of working-age migrants in Wales who were born in accession countries (A8, A2, Cyprus, Malta and Croatia) is estimated at about 9,000 for the 2004-07 period, about 24,000 in 2014, and 38,000 in 2015. Out of an estimated total of 149,000 working age non-UK born residents in Wales in 2015, the largest group of migrants was born outside the EU (54% of non-UK born). Between 2004-07, approximately 57,000 non-EU born were resident in Wales. In 2015, this is estimated at 81,000.

Figure 2:

Employment and Salaries

Non-UK born residents represent a much smaller share of all those in work in the Welsh labour market (8%) compared to the whole of the UK (16%)

Figure 3 shows the proportion of those in employment who are non-UK born and non-UK nationals for Wales and the UK. In this discussion, employment refers to those who are in paid work, including employees, the self-employed and those in some government schemes.

In 2015, about 8% of those in employment in Wales were non-UK born and 5% were non-UK nationals. The equivalent for the whole of the UK is much higher at 16% of all those in employment being non-UK born and 10% being non-UK nationals. The share of non-UK born and non-UK nationals in employment has not changed much over time, ranging between 4% and 7% in its 2010-11 peak. For the whole of the UK, the trend over time is upward at approximately 11% in 2004-07, 14% in 2010-11, and 16% since 2014.

Figure 3:

In 2015, 57% of non-UK born and 61% of UK-born who lived in Wales were employees. For the same year, only 9% of UK-born and 11% of non-UK born in Wales reported being self-employed.

Figure 4 shows the share of working age population who are employees, by country of birth and residence in Wales or the whole of the UK. According to broad labour force categories, working age persons are classified either as employees, self-employed, in a government scheme/unpaid family workers, unemployed or inactive. Due to sample size limitations, here we focus on the two largest groups, employees and self-employed.

In Wales in 2015, 57% of non-UK born were employees, compared to 61% of the UK-born. In the UK in 2015, 59% of non-UK born were employees, compared to 64% of the UK-born. Non-UK born in the UK are more likely than non-UK born in Wales to be employees. However, across both Wales and the UK as a whole, the UK-born are on average more likely to be employees than the non-UK born. Due to survey sample size, small variations between years are unlikely to represent significant changes.

Figure 4:

Figure 5 shows the percentage of working age population who are in self-employment by country of birth and residence in Wales and the UK.

In 2015, 11% of working age non-UK born and 9% of working age UK-born in Wales reported being self-employed. In comparison with the previous chart, we can see that a smaller proportion of the working age population is in self-employment than employees. Changes over time and differences between UK and non-UK born, however, are small and not statistically significant.

Figure 5:

Figure 6 shows the average annual salary in GBP for workers in Wales and the UK who are non-UK and UK born.

In 2015, average annual wages were approximately £23,000 for UK-born and £22,000 for non-UK born workers in Wales. The equivalent average for the UK is higher at £26,000 for UK-born and non-UK born. It is important to point out that the differences in average salaries between the UK and non-UK born are not statistically significant. This may be driven by the small sample size of the survey or by other factors. UK and foreign-born workers differ in education, age, and work experience. When comparing the wages of the two groups as a whole, these differences are not taken into account (Manacorda et al 2008; TUC Commission 2007; Markaki 2014). The disparity in salaries between the UK as a whole and Wales is also likely to be driven by higher salaries in areas such as London.

Figure 6:

Occupations and Industries

In 2015 about 19% of non-UK born in Wales worked in elementary occupations compared to 12% of UK-born.

Table 1 shows the top three major occupation groups amongst of non-UK born workers in Wales in 2015. Amongst non-UK born workers in Wales, the largest proportion work in Professional Occupations (21%), followed by Elementary Occupations (19%), and Caring, Leisure and Other Service Occupations (12%). These represent broad occupational groupings and include a wide range of different jobs across industries (see below for industries), from farm workers, cleaners and car park attendants in Elementary Occupations, to chemists and solicitors in Professional Occupations.

When focusing on each occupational group as a whole, data for 2015 suggests that about 12% of all workers in Elementary Occupations in Wales were non-UK born. Despite one in five non-UK born working in Professional Occupations, non-UK born make up just 9% of all workers in these jobs. The distribution and shares of non-UK born workers across occupations in the UK remained largely the same since 2014.

Table 1:

Top 3 major occupation groups in percentage of non-UK born, Wales 2015

Major occupation group

% of the non-UK born

% of the UK born

% of all in occupation who are non-UK born

Examples of occupations in category

Professional Occupations

22%

18%

9%

Chemists, electrical engineers, pharmacists, solicitors

Elementary Occupations

19%

12%

12%

Farm workers, cleaners, messengers, car park attendants

Caring, Leisure and Other Service Occupations

12%

11%

8%

Care assistants and home carers, travel agents, hairdressers, barbers, undertakers and mortuary assistants

Source: LFS 2015 - Wales residents 16-64 years old.

Large proportions of non-UK born residents in Wales work in the public administration, education and health sectors (34% of non-UK born), as well as in distribution, hotels and restaurants (20% of non-UK born)

Table 2 shows the top 3 industry sectors in the percentage of non-UK born workers in Wales in 2015 (the latest calendar year for which data is available).

The largest proportion of non-UK born residents in Wales work in public administration education and health sectors (34% of non-UK born), and in distribution, hotels and restaurants (20% of non-UK born). Approximately 16% of non-UK born in Wales worked in Manufacturing in 2015. On average, the spread of workers across these industries is similar between UK and non-UK born, while on the whole, foreign-born workers make up just about 7-11% of all workers in those industries.

Table 2:

Industry sector in main job

% of the non-UK born

% of the UK born

% of all in industry who are non-UK born

Top 3 industries in percentage of non-UK born workers, Wales 2015

O,P,Q - Public admin, education and health

34%

34%

7%

G,I - Distribution, hotels and restaurants

20%

19%

8%

C - Manufacturing

16%

11%

11%

 Source: LFS 2015 - Wales residents 16-64 years old.

Evidence gaps and limitations

The LFS does not contain information on short-term migrants because the survey excludes individuals who have been resident in their households for less than 6 months (Dustmann et al. 2010). Also, the LFS excludes those who do not live in households, such as those in hotels, caravan parks, and other communal establishments; it also excludes halls of residence, thus missing many overseas students (many of whom are known to be working in the UK). Furthermore, the LFS does not include asylum seekers. Finally, the LFS is unlikely to capture migrants working without the legal right to live and/or work in the UK.

Estimates using the LFS are subject to significant sampling variability, as with any sample survey. In each quarter of the LFS, between 143 and 218 working age respondents who reside in Wales are non-UK born.  To increase sample size and improve the reliability of the statistics, the analysis pools together all quarters for 2004-2007 (2,798 respondents), 2010-2011 (1,557 respondents), and four quarters from 2014 (773 respondents) onwards. For further discussion see the data sources and limitations section of the Migration Observatory website.

References

  • Dustmann, C., T. Frattini, and C. Halls. 2010. Assessing the Fiscal Costs and Benefits of A8 Migration to the UK. Fiscal Studies, 31, p. 1-41.
  • Marco Manacorda, Alan Manning, and Jonathan Wadsworth. 2012. The Impact of Immigration on the Structure of Male Wages: Theory and Evidence from Britain. Journal of the European Economic Association, p. 120-151
  • Markaki, Yvonni. 2014. Do Labour Market Conditions Shape Immigrant-Native Gaps in Employment Outcomes? A Comparison of 19 European Countries, ISER Working Paper Series, 2014-41
  • TUC Commission on Vulnerable Employment. 2007. Hard Work, Hidden Lives. Trades Union Congress

Additional information

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The Migration Services in Wales project is delivered by Welsh Refugee Council, COMPAS and the Migration Observatory. Funded by Welsh Government.

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