Migrant integration statistics – labour market indicators
Data extracted in May 2018.
Planned update: May 2019.
In 2017, the EU employment rate of foreign-born migrants was 67 % compared with 73 % for the native-born population.
The EU unemployment rate for migrants born outside the EU was 6.4 percentage points higher than the rate for the native-born population in 2017.
Development of activity rates for the population aged 20-64, EU-28, 2008-2017
Several Member States of the European Union (EU) have traditionally been a destination for migrants, whether from elsewhere within the EU or elsewhere in the world. The flow of migrants has led to a range of new skills and talents being introduced into local labour markets while also increasing cultural diversity. The integration of migrants has increasingly become a key area for policy focus in recent years, with measures to prepare immigrants and their descendants so they may be more active participants in society, for example, through labour market and citizenship initiatives.
This article presents EU statistics for a range of labour market indicators, contrasting the situation of migrants with the native population; the information may be used as part of an on-going process to monitor and evaluate migrant integration policies. The indicators presented are based on: a set of Council conclusions from 2010 on migrant integration; a subsequent study Indicators of immigrant integration — a pilot study from 2011; and a report titled Using EU indicators of immigrant integration from 2013. The article analyses information from the list of Zaragoza indicators that were agreed by EU Member States in Zaragoza (Spain) in April 2010, alongside additional information derived from the 2013 report on migrant integration. More specifically, it presents statistical data on the following:
Labour market participation — activity rates
The gap in labour market participation between migrants born in the EU and those born outside the EU continued to widen in 2017
Labour market participation may be measured in terms of the activity rate, which provides information on the number of economically active persons (also known as the labour force) aged 20-64 as a percentage of the total population (in the same age group); this indicator is one of the key Zaragoza indicators for measuring migrant integration.The activity rate of the EU-28 working-age population varies somewhat according to country of birth or citizenship (as illustrated in Figure 1). During the period 2008-2017, non-EU-born migrants (hereafter referred to as migrants born outside the EU) systematically recorded lower activity rates than EU-born migrants (those born in a different EU Member State to the one in which they were living) or the native-born population, with these differences increasing over time.
In 2017, the EU-28 activity rate for migrants born outside the EU was 72.6 %, which was 1.8 percentage points (pp) lower than the rate recorded in 2008. By contrast, the activity rate for the native-born population stood at 78.4 %, which marked an increase of 3.0 pp compared with 2008. However, the highest activity rate was recorded among migrants born elsewhere in the EU, at 81.5 %. The activity rate for this subpopulation also increased at the most rapid pace during the period under consideration, up 4.8 pp when compared with 2008.
A similar pattern — but with slightly greater differences — was observed when comparing the activity rates of people who were non-EU citizens with those of people who were citizens of other EU Member States or with national citizens, with the lowest activity rate recorded for non-EU citizens (68.6 % in 2017) and the highest for EU citizens from other Member States (82.5 %).At an aggregated level, activity rates were generally higher for the native-born population rather than the foreign-born population; this pattern held in 17 of the EU Member States (see Figure 2). The biggest differences between activity rates for native-born and foreign-born populations were recorded in the Netherlands (where the native-born population had an activity rate that was 13.4 pp higher than the equivalent rate for the foreign-born population), Latvia (10.5 pp), Germany (9.7 pp) and France (9.6 pp). There were 11 Member States, half of which were in southern Europe and most of the rest in eastern Europe, where the activity rate of the working-age population was higher among foreign-born migrants rather than among the native-born population; this gap was highest in Romania where the rate for the foreign-born population was 12.5 pp higher than that for the native-born population and also relatively high in Luxembourg (6.3 pp difference) and Portugal (5.1 pp).
Those EU Member States that generally recorded some of the highest overall activity rates tended to do so as a result of high activity rates among their native-born populations; this was particularly the case in Sweden, Estonia, Germany, the Netherlands, Latvia and Denmark; the highest activity rates in Belgium, France and Slovenia were also recorded for the native-born population. By contrast, migrant populations born outside the EU registered the highest activity rates in Greece, Malta, Poland and Slovakia.Activity rates for women were systematically lower than the corresponding rates recorded for men in all EU Member States in 2017, highlighting that gender equality had yet to be achieved. This gap was greater still among migrant women, and in particular, among migrant women born outside the EU: the EU-28 activity rate for migrant women born outside the EU (63.0 %) was 20.0 pp lower than that recorded for men (83.0 %). The largest gender gaps in labour market participation among migrants born outside the EU were recorded in Slovakia (30.3 pp), Italy (29.1 pp), Malta (26.3 pp), Greece (26.1 pp) and Belgium (26.0 pp). The situation in Belgium was interesting insofar as it was the only EU Member State where the activity rate for migrant women born outside the EU was less than half (49.7 %). By contrast, the activity rate for migrant women born outside the EU reached as high as 79.5 % in Portugal, which was one of five EU Member States — the others being Hungary, Poland, Cyprus and Lithuania — where the gender gap in activity rates for migrants born outside the EU was in single figures (see Figure 4).
In 2017, the EU-28 employment rate of foreign-born migrants was 67.1 % compared with 73.0 % for the native-born population
The employment rate is defined as the share of the working-age population (defined here as people aged 20-64 years) who are in employment; this indicator is also one of the key Zaragoza indicators. In 2017, the EU-28 employment rate for the native-born working-age population was 73.0 %, which was 5.9 pp higher than the rate recorded for foreign-born migrants. A closer analysis of this latter figure reveals that the employment rate for working-age migrants born in a different EU Member State was 75.4 % (some 2.4 pp higher than the average for the native-born population), while that for migrants born outside the EU was much lower, at 63.0 % (some 10.0 pp below the average for the native-born population).A gender gap, with lower employment rates for women than for men, can be observed in nearly all of the EU Member States for each of the population subgroups shown in Table 1: the native-born population, foreign-born migrants, migrants born in a different EU Member State, and migrants born outside the EU. One exception is Cyprus, where women born outside of the EU had a higher employment rate than their male counterparts; a similar situation was observed in Iceland. In the remaining cases, employment rates were higher for men. The smallest gender gaps were typically recorded for the native-born population, with larger gaps for migrants born outside the EU than for migrants born elsewhere in the EU. The EU-28 employment rate for migrants born outside the EU was 18.5 pp higher for men than for women in 2017; this gender gap was 14.0 pp for migrants born elsewhere in the EU and 10.6 pp for the native-born population.
In 16 of the 25 Member States for which data are available in 2017 (partial information for Bulgaria, Lithuania and Romania), the smallest gender gaps for employment rates tended to be found within the native-born population; this was also the case in Norway and Switzerland. In France, Croatia, Italy, Malta, Portugal and Slovenia, the gender gap for the employment rate was lowest among migrants born in a different Member State, while in Cyprus, Hungary and Poland it was lowest among migrants born outside the EU, as was also the case in Iceland.Employment rates in the EU-28 in 2017 were highest among people with a tertiary level of education and lowest among those with at most a lower secondary level of education: this was observed for the native-born population as well as for migrants born outside the EU and migrants born elsewhere in the EU and was equally the case for both male and female subpopulations. Despite this apparent uniformity, a number of differences can be observed (see Figure 5). While migrant women born elsewhere in the EU had the highest employment rates among women not having a tertiary level of education, the female employment rate was higher for native-born women with a tertiary level of education; among men, migrants born elsewhere in the EU consistently had the highest employment rates. By contrast, migrants born outside the EU had the lowest employment rates among men having either a tertiary level of education or having an upper secondary or post-secondary non-tertiary level of education, while employment rates were slightly lower for native-born men with at most a lower secondary level of education; among women, migrants born outside the EU consistently recorded the lowest employment rates (irrespective of their level of education).
Youth employmentThe youth employment rate is defined in relation to the subpopulation of young persons aged 15-24 years. Within this age group, EU-28 employment rates ranged from 28.8 % among migrants born outside the EU, through 34.9 % for the native-born population, to a high of 40.0 % recorded for migrants born in a different EU Member State. Note that many people within this age group are still attending school, college or higher education establishments and that if they do so on a full-time basis then they may not be willing or have the time to seek paid employment alongside their studies.
In 2017, the highest youth employment rates among the EU Member States were recorded in Denmark and the Netherlands, irrespective of where the young people concerned were born; high youth employment rates were also recorded in Iceland and Switzerland. The youth employment rate for the native-born population was 63.5 % in the Netherlands (almost double the EU-28 average), while Denmark (56.8 %), Austria (52.6 %) and the United Kingdom (52.4 %) were the only other Member States to report that more than half of all native-born youths were employed. The highest youth employment rate for migrants born in a different Member State was registered in Denmark (63.8 %), while the Netherlands (52.0 %) and the United Kingdom (50.0 %) were the only other Member States to report a rate of at least 50.0 %. The highest youth employment rate for migrants born outside the EU was recorded in Poland (45.1 %), followed closely by Denmark (44.1 %) and the Netherlands (43.6 %) which were the only other Member States to record rates in excess of 40.0 %. By contrast, the lowest youth employment rates were recorded in Greece for the native-born population (13.7 %), in Italy for migrants born elsewhere in the EU (18.3 %), and in Belgium for migrants born outside the EU (17.4 %).
Despite falling for four consecutive years, the EU-28 unemployment rate for migrants born outside the EU remained 6.4 pp higher than the rate for the native-born population in 2017
The unemployment rate is defined as the number of unemployed people expressed as a percentage of the total labour force; this indicator is also one of the key Zaragoza indicators. In 2017, the overall EU-28 unemployment rate among people aged 20-64 was 7.7 %.The EU-28 unemployment rate for the native-born population was consistently lower than the unemployment rate for migrant labour throughout the period from 2008 to 2017 (see Figure 8); the gap was particularly high between the rates for the native-born population and migrants born outside the EU. At the onset of the global financial and economic crisis the differences between unemployment rates for the native-born and foreign-born populations were relatively small, but these gaps widened in consecutive years following the crisis, reaching 3.3 pp (in 2012) for migrants born in a different EU Member State and 10.1 pp (in 2013) for migrants born outside the EU. Thereafter, the differences in unemployment rates began to narrow again, with the latest data available for 2017 confirming this pattern. The EU-28 unemployment rate for the native-born population was 6.9 % in 2017, while the rate for migrants born elsewhere in the EU was 0.6 pp higher (7.5 %) and that for migrants born outside the EU was 6.4 pp higher (13.3 %).
The lowest unemployment rates for migrants born outside the EU were recorded in the Czech Republic (4.5 %), Estonia (5.8 %), Germany (6.1 %), Latvia (6.7 %), the United Kingdom (7.4 %), Cyprus (8.1 %) and Ireland (9.3 %), while rates elsewhere were in excess of 10.0 %, exceeding one fifth of the labour force in Finland (21.9 %) and Spain (25.3 %) and peaking in Greece (at 35.2 %). In all but two of the 22 EU Member States for which data are available in 2017, unemployment rates for migrants born outside the EU were consistently higher than those for the native-born population: the exceptions were Latvia and Cyprus where unemployment rates for the native-born population were 1.2 and 3.8 pp higher respectively. The gap between unemployment rates for migrants born outside the EU and those for the native-born population was relatively small (at most 1.1 pp) in Estonia, the Czech Republic and Croatia, while it exceeded 10.0 pp in Greece, France, Luxembourg, Belgium and Sweden and peaked at 14.9 pp in Finland.
The developments for youth unemployment rates followed closely those for overall unemployment rates, although at much higher levels
The youth unemployment rate is defined as the number of unemployed people aged 15-24 as a proportion of the total labour force for the same age group. It should be noted that a relatively high share of young people remain outside the labour market (usually because they are in full-time education).
A comparison between the left-hand side of Figure 11 and the left-hand side of Figure 8 reveals similar patterns for the development of overall and youth unemployment rates: after initially rising at a fairly rapid pace during and following the global financial and economic crisis, the EU-28 youth unemployment rate peaked in 2013, then subsequently fell for four consecutive years. The migrant population born outside the EU had the highest youth unemployment rate in 2017, while the lowest rate was reported for the native-born population, although by 2017 the youth unemployment rate for EU-born migrants was almost as low as that for the native-born population.As well as showing the youth unemployment rate, Figure 11 also shows the unemployment rate for a slightly older age group, namely people aged 25-29 years. There was a marked difference between EU-28 unemployment rates for people aged 15-24 and people aged 25-29 years, with lower rates for the second of these two age cohorts. Furthermore, there was practically no difference in unemployment rates for people aged 25-29 when comparing the native-born population with the migrant population born in a different EU Member State, in contrast to the situation for the younger age group, where lower unemployment rates were registered for the native-born population. In fact, in 2016 and 2017, migrants aged 25-29 born in a different EU Member State had a lower unemployment rate than the native-born population of the same age.
Long-term unemployment refers to people who have been unemployed (out of work and actively seeking employment) for at least a year; the indicator presented here refers once again to the working-age population, defined as people aged 20-64. This form of ‘structural’ unemployment is of particular concern for policymakers insofar as once people have been unemployed for a considerable period of time it is generally more difficult for them to be assimilated back into the workforce. The share of the long-term unemployed in total unemployment rose across the EU-28 from 39.1 % in 2008 to a peak of 51.2 % in 2014, although there followed three consecutive reductions as the share fell again to less than a half in 2016 (48.6 %) and 2017 (47.0 %).There was a relatively uniform share of long-term unemployment in total unemployment when analysing results by country of birth. Across the EU-28 in 2017, the share for the native-born population was 47.5 %, while the proportion for migrants born outside the EU was almost identical (at 46.4 %) and that for migrants born in a different EU Member State was somewhat lower (at 40.3 %). Figure 13 shows the development of long-term unemployment as a share of total unemployment over the period 2008-2017, with the lowest proportions consistently recorded for the migrant population born elsewhere in the EU.
Cyprus and the United Kingdom recorded highest gaps between the share of long-term unemployment in total unemployment for migrants born in a different EU Member State and the corresponding ratio for the native-born population (with higher shares for native-born population); 16.0 pp lower in the United Kingdom and 18.4 pp lower in Cyprus. A similar situation was observed for Cyprus concerning the migrant population born outside the EU, as its share was 18.8 pp lower than for the native-born population. By contrast, the Czech Republic reported a much lower share of long-term unemployment among its native-born population (35.2 %) than for either the migrant population born outside the EU (49.4 %) or in a different Member States (57.6 %).
Source data for tables and graphs
The main data source for labour market statistics is the EU labour force survey (EU-LFS). The EU-LFS is a large quarterly sample survey that covers the resident population aged 15 and above in private households. It is carried out in the EU Member States, EFTA (except Liechtenstein) and candidate countries. The survey is designed to provide population estimates for a set of main labour market characteristics, covering areas such as employment, unemployment, economic inactivity and hours of work, as well as providing analyses for a range of socio-demographic characteristics, such as sex, age, educational attainment, occupation, household characteristics and region of residence.
A set of Council, European Parliament and European Commission Regulations define how the EU-LFS is carried out, while some countries have their own national legislation for the implementation of the survey. The key advantage of using EU-LFS data is that they come from a survey which is highly harmonised and optimised for comparability. However, there are some limitations when considering the coverage of the EU-LFS for migrant populations, as the survey was designed to target the whole resident population and not specific subpopulations, such as migrants. The following issues should be noted when analysing migrant integration statistics:
- recently arrived migrants — this group of migrants is missing from the sampling frame in every host EU Member State, which results in under-coverage of the actual migrant population for EU-LFS statistics;
- non-response — one disadvantage of the EU-LFS is the high percentage of non-response that is recorded among migrant populations, this may reflect: language difficulties; misunderstanding concerning the purpose of the survey; difficulties in communicating with the survey interviewer; or fear concerning the negative impact that participation in the survey could have (for example, damaging a migrants chances of receiving the necessary authorisation to remain in the host EU Member State);
- sample size — given the EU-LFS is a sample survey, it is possible that some of the results presented for labour market characteristics of migrants are unrepresentative, especially in those EU Member States with small migrant populations (note that for cases where data are considered to be of particularly low reliability, the data are not published).
This article focuses on comparisons between national and migrant populations. The results for the migrant population are usually disaggregated into migrants from other EU Member States and migrants from outside the EU, with information presented by age, sex and educational attainment. Migrant indicators are calculated for two broad groups: the foreign population determined by country of birth and the foreign population determined by citizenship. Although providing some main indicators for the latter, this article focuses on providing information on migrant integration by country of birth: this subpopulation is generally somewhat larger and therefore allows more complete and robust data to be presented. That said, results by country of birth are generally representative of those by citizenship.
The following analyses are presented:
For the population by country of birth
- Native-born — the population born in the reporting country;
- Foreign-born — the population born outside the reporting country; subdivided into:
- EU-born — the population born in an EU Member State other than the reporting country; and
- Non-EU-born — the population born in non-EU countries.
For the population by citizenship
- Nationals — the population of citizens of the reporting country;
- Foreign citizens — the population of non-nationals; subdivided into:
- EU citizens — the citizens of EU Member States, except the reporting country;
- Non-EU citizens — the citizens of non-EU countries.
For the population by age
- 15-24 — this age cohort represents the youth population, as defined by the United Nations (UN);
- 20-64 — this cohort has been selected because it is relevant to one of the targets included within the Europe 2020 strategy, namely, that the employment rate for persons aged 20-64 should reach 75 % by 2020.
Successful integration of migrants into society in the host country is the key to maximising the opportunities of legal migration and making the most of the contributions that immigration can make to EU development.
The continued development and integration of the European migration policy remains a key priority in order to meet the challenges and harness the opportunities that migration represents globally. The integration of nationals of non-member countries legally living in the EU Member States has gained increasing importance in the European agenda in recent years.
There is a strong link between integration and migration policies since successful integration is necessary for maximising the economic and social benefits of immigration for individuals as well as societies. EU legislation provides a common legal framework regarding the conditions of entry and stay and a common set of rights for certain categories of migrants.
More information on the policies and legislation in force in this area can be found in an introductory article on migrant integration statistics.
- Migrant integration statistics—online publication
Employment and unemployment
- Social inclusion (mii_soinc)
- Health (mii_health)
- Education (mii_educ)
- Employment (mii_emp)
- Population by sex, age, citizenship and labour status (1 000) (lfsa_pganws)
- Population by sex, age, country of birth and labour status (lfsa_pgacws)
- Activity rates (mii_act)
- Activity rates by sex, age and nationality (%) (lfsa_argan)
- Activity rates by sex, age, educational attainment level and citizenship (lfsa_argaedn)
- Activity rates by sex, age and country of birth (%) (lfsa_argacob)
- Activity rates by sex, age, educational attainment level and country of birth (lfsa_argaedcob)
- Unemployment (mii_une)
- Unemployment rates by sex, age and nationality (%) (lfsa_urgan)
- Unemployment rates by sex, age and country of birth (%) (lfsa_urgacob)
- Long-term unemployment (12 months or more) as a percentage of the total unemployment, by sex, age and citizenship (%) (lfsa_upgan)
- Long-term unemployment (12 months or more) as a percentage of the total unemployment, by sex, age and country of birth (%) (lfsa_upgacob)
- Employment and self-employment (mii_em)
- Employment rates by sex, age and nationality (%) (lfsa_ergan)
- Employment rates by sex, age, educational attainment level and citizenship (lfsa_ergaedn)
- Employment rates by sex, age and country of birth (%) (lfsa_ergacob)
- Employment rates by sex, age, educational attainment level and country of birth (lfsa_ergaedcob)
- Employment - regional series (mii_emp_r)
- Active citizenship (mii_actctz)
- LFS ad-hoc modules on migrants (mii_lfso)
- LFS series — detailed annual survey results (ESMS metadata file — lfsa_esms)