Monday graph: 30000 Brits claim unemployment benefits in EU countries

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Fresh from the Guardian!

EU_Unemployment_DatablogThere’s some data missing that may be relevant (I’m thinking especially about Britons claiming unemployment benefits in the Netherlands) but it’s still very interesting.

One thing the graph does very well is to remind us that yes, British people on benefits in EU countries do exist, it doesn’t only happen the other way around.

Another thing we can see is that a very small number of migrants are on unemployment benefits either way. There are about 1.8m Brits living in other EU countries and 2.34m EU citizens living in Britain (source). That would mean 1.6% of Brits living in EU countries and 2.5% of EU migrants in the UK are claiming it. Factor this with the fact that migrants contribute 30% more in taxes than they use in public services. In 2014, there were 900,100 people on JSA total in the UK (source). This would mean about 2.5% of working-age population; while for “out of work benefits” in general- 5% of EU migrants are claiming at least one of them compared with about 13% of natives (source).

(Oh, and in case you’re giving Polish people the side eye: at the time of the 2011 Census, 521,000 Polish-born people reported being resident in the UK; unless the number of Polish people in the UK has significantly decreased since, that would mean only 2.8% of them are receiving JSA. Also- on 2011 Census by the Office for National Statistics shows that Polish-born residents of England and Wales have the highest employment rate of any other group when analysed by birth- including the British).

Another thing to notice: migrants from countries who onl recently received full working rights (Romania and Bulgaria) are very unlikely to claim JSA compared to, say, Polish people, even factoring in the number of each country’s migrants in the UK. My most plausible guess would be that it’s because the more recent migrants are much less likely to claim unemployment benefits than those who come to work, settle down, live and work in the UK for a while and then lose their jobs.

Now, if you look at countries where UK citizens are more likely to claim unemployment benefits than the citizens of the respective country living in the UK are, they seem, at a glance, to be Western European, well-developed countries with decent welfare systems and (perhaps more importantly) likely to be perceived as offering a lot of job opportunities. This is what may make the difference for migrants in the event of a job loss: do you stick to your country of immigration and claim unemployment benefits while you work there, do you return home (and presumably claim unemployment benefits while job-hunting as well) or go somewhere else?

In other news: A European Commission review of employment finds that countries which had reformed their labour markets and invested in human capital proved to be more resilient during the economic crisis. The recession’s negative impact on employment and incomes was smaller for countries with more open labour markets and stronger investment in lifelong learning.You can read more about it here.

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