Statistics Explained

Migrant integration statistics – labour market indicators


Data extracted in April 2021.

Planned update: May 2022.

Highlights

In 2020, the EU employment rate for people aged 20 to 64 years was 61.9 % for those born outside the EU, and 73.5 % for the native-born population as well as for people born in another EU Member State.

In 2020, the EU unemployment rate for people aged 20 to 64 years was 13.9 % for those born outside the EU, 8.1 % for those born in another EU Member State and 6.1 % for the native-born population.

[[File:Migrant integration statistics - UNEMPLOYMENT RATE interactive v2.xlsx]]

Unemployment rates in the EU, by country of birth, 2010-2020

This article presents European Union (EU) statistics for a range of labour market indicators, contrasting the situation of migrants with the native subpopulation; the information can 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 entitled 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:

This article forms part of an online Eurostat publication — Migrant integration statistics.

Full article

Labour market participation — activity rates

In 2020, the EU activity rate of working-age persons born elsewhere in the EU was 80.0 %, compared with 78.3 % for the native-born population and 71.9 % for persons born outside the EU

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) expressed as a percentage of the total population. In this article data for the activity rate are presented for people aged 20-64 years. This indicator is one of the key Zaragoza indicators for measuring migrant integration.

The activity rate of the EU working-age population varies according to country of birth or citizenship (as illustrated in Figure 1). During the period from 2010 to 2020, non-EU-born persons (hereafter referred to as persons born outside the EU) consistently recorded lower activity rates than their EU-born peers (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 up until 2017. There was a change in 2018 as the activity rate for persons born outside the EU rose at a relatively rapid pace (which was higher than the increases for the other populations), while in 2019 the gap between the activity rate for persons born outside the EU and the rates for the native-born and EU-born subpopulations was stable.

In 2020, there was a notable downturn in the activity rates for both foreign-born subpopulations, down 1.5 percentage points for persons born outside the EU and down 1.3 points for EU-born persons; for the native-born population, the downturn in the activity rate was notably smaller, just 0.3 percentage points. This general downturn in 2020 reflects, at least in part, the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on the labour market.

Figure 1: Development of activity rates for the population aged 20-64 years, EU, 2010-2020
(%)
Source: Eurostat (lfsa_argan) and (lfsa_argacob)

In 2020, the EU activity rate for persons born outside the EU was 71.9 %, which was 2.3 percentage points lower than the rate recorded in 2010. By contrast, the activity rate for the native-born subpopulation stood at 78.3 %, which marked an increase of 3.3 points compared with 2010. However, the highest activity rate was recorded among persons born elsewhere in the EU, at 80.0 %. Despite the fall of 1.3 points between 2019 and 2020, the activity rate for this subpopulation also increased during the period concerned, up 2.5 points when compared with 2010.

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. The lowest activity rate in 2020 was recorded for non-EU citizens (68.8 %) and the highest for EU citizens from other Member States (80.4 %).

At an aggregated level, activity rates were generally higher for the native-born population rather than the foreign-born population. This pattern was observed 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 Romania (where the native-born population had an activity rate that was 18.3 percentage points higher than the equivalent rate for the foreign-born population), the Netherlands (12.8 points) and Bulgaria (11.1 points). There were 10 Member States, nine of which were in southern or eastern parts of the EU, where the activity rate of the working-age population was higher among foreign-born persons rather than among the native-born population; this gap was highest in Luxembourg (where the rate for the foreign-born population was 7.3 points above that for the native-born population), followed by Poland (7.1 points difference) and Malta (6.6 points).

Figure 2: Difference in activity rates for the population aged 20-64 years by country of birth, 2020
(percentage points; rate for native-born - rate for foreign-born)
Source: Eurostat (lfsa_argacob)

Figure 3 provides an analysis of the results by country of birth: in 2020, the EU activity rate of working-age persons born elsewhere in the EU was 80.0 %, compared with 78.3 % for the native-born population and 71.9 % for those born outside the EU. This pattern — higher activity rates for the population born in a different EU Member State than for either the native-born population or the subpopulation born outside the EU — was repeated in 14 of the 25 EU Member States for which data are available (note: partial information for Bulgaria and Romania), with the highest activity rates among persons born in a different EU Member State observed in Malta (93.4 %) and in Sweden (87.6 %).

By contrast, the native-born population recorded the highest activity rates in nine of the EU Member States, with the highest proportions observed in Sweden (89.0 %), Germany (85.2 %), Estonia (84.8 %), the Netherlands (84.7 %), Latvia (84.5 %) and Lithuania (84.2 %). There were two Member States where the population born outside the EU recorded higher activity rates than for either the native-born population or the population born in a different EU Member State: Czechia (84.9 %) and Greece (74.6 %).

Figure 3: Activity rates for the population aged 20-64 years, by country of birth, 2020
(%)
Source: Eurostat (lfsa_argacob)

Activity rates for women in 2020 were consistently lower than the corresponding rates recorded for men in the EU (the data are available here). The gender gap was greater among migrant women, and in particular, among women born outside the EU: the EU activity rate for women born outside the EU (62.1 %) was 20.2 percentage points lower than that recorded for men (82.3 %). The largest gender gaps in labour market participation among persons born outside the EU were recorded in Italy (32.5 points) and Slovakia (30.1 points). In France, Croatia and Italy, the activity rate for women born outside the EU was under 60.0 %, and it was less than 50 % in Belgium. By contrast, the activity rate for women born outside the EU reached as high as 80.1 % in Estonia, which was one of three EU Member States — the others being Portugal and Lithuania — where the gender gap for activity rates of persons born outside the EU was in single figures (see Figure 4).

Figure 4: Activity rates for the population aged 20-64 years born outside the EU, by sex, 2020
(%)
Source: Eurostat (lfsa_argacob)

Employment rates

In 2020, the EU employment rate of persons aged 20-64 years ranged from 61.9 % among persons born outside the EU to 73.5 % among the native-born population and also among persons born in another EU Member State

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 2020, the EU employment rate for the native-born working-age population was 73.5 %, which was 8.3 percentage points higher than the rate recorded for the foreign-born population. A closer analysis of this latter figure reveals that the employment rate for working-age persons born in a different EU Member State was also 73.5 % (the same as the average for the native-born population), while that for persons born outside the EU was considerably lower, at 61.9 % (some 11.6 points below the averages for the other two populations).

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 populations shown in Table 1: the native-born population, foreign-born population, persons born in a different EU Member State, and those born outside the EU. The exception was Latvia, where women born in a different EU Member State had a higher employment rate than their male counterparts; a similar situation was also observed in Iceland.

The smallest employment gender gaps were generally recorded for the native-born population, with larger gaps observed for persons born outside the EU than for those born elsewhere in the EU. The EU employment rate for persons born outside the EU was 19.3 percentage points higher in 2020 for men than for women; this gender gap was 12.7 points for persons born elsewhere in the EU and 10.3 points for the native-born population.

In 18 of the 25 EU Member States for which data for 2020 are available (note: partial information for Bulgaria and Romania), the narrowest gender gaps for employment rates tend to be found within the native-born population; this was also the case in Norway and Switzerland. In Latvia, Slovakia, Malta, Poland, Hungary and Croatia, the gender gap for the employment rate was narrowest among persons born in a different EU Member State, as was also the case in Iceland. In Estonia, the gender gap was narrowest among persons born outside the EU.

Table 1: Employment rates for the population aged 20-64 years, by country of birth and by sex, 2020
(%)
Source: Eurostat (lfsa_ergacob)

In 2020, employment rates in the EU were highest among people with a tertiary level of education and lowest among those with at most a lower secondary level of education: this pattern was observed for the native-born population as well as for persons born outside the EU and those born elsewhere in the EU. This was equally the case for men and for women. Despite this apparent uniformity, a number of differences can be observed (see Figure 5). While men and women born elsewhere in the EU had the highest employment rates among men and women having at most a lower secondary education, among men and women with a tertiary level of education the highest employment rates were recorded for the native-born population. By contrast, persons born outside the EU had the lowest employment rates among men either having 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, those born outside the EU consistently recorded the lowest employment rates (irrespective of their level of education).

Figure 5: Employment rates for the population aged 20-64 years, by sex, education level and country of birth, EU, 2020
(%)
Source: Eurostat (lfsa_ergaedcob)

Figure 6 continues the analysis by highest level of education attained, focusing on the part of the population having completed a tertiary level of education. The analysis shows the difference in employment rates between the native-born population on one hand and the two populations of migrants on the other. In nearly all EU Member States for which data are available (no data for Romania), the employment rate for the native-born population was higher than for persons born outside the EU; the largest difference was observed for Greece (21.9 percentage points). When comparing persons with a tertiary level of education with the native-born population and persons who were born elsewhere in the EU (note: no data available for Bulgaria or Romania), in a majority of EU Member States the native-born population with a tertiary level of education had a higher employment rate in 2020. This was however not the case in Slovenia, Hungary, Latvia, Luxembourg, Portugal or Malta. Furthermore, the gap between the employment rates for the native-born population and persons born elsewhere in the EU was always smaller than that observed between the native-born population and persons born outside the EU.

Figure 6: Difference in employment rates for the population aged 20-64 years having completed tertiary education, by country of birth, 2020
(percentage points)
Source: Eurostat (lfsa_argacob)

Youth employment

The youth employment rate is defined in relation to persons aged 15-24 years. Within this age group, EU employment rates ranged from 31.1 % for persons born outside the EU, through 31.3 % among the native-born population, to a high of 35.4 % recorded for persons 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 study on a full-time basis they may not be willing or have the time to seek paid employment alongside their studies.

Figure 7: Youth employment rate for persons aged 15-24 years, by country of birth, 2020
(%)
Source: Eurostat (lfsa_ergacob)

In 2020, the highest youth employment rates for the native-born population among the EU Member States were recorded in the Netherlands, Denmark and Austria: 64.1 % in the Netherlands (slightly more than double the EU average), 53.8 % in Denmark and 51.0 % in Austria. None of the other Member States reported that more than half of all native-born youths were employed, although this rate was only just under half in Germany and Malta. Among the EU Member States, the highest youth employment rate for persons born in a different Member State was registered in Malta (52.2 %), while Czechia (50.7 %) also reported a rate of at least 50.0 %. In Estonia (52.1 %) and Cyprus (50.1 %), more than half of all youths born outside the EU were in employment.

By contrast, the lowest youth employment rate in 2020 for the native-born population was recorded in Greece (13.5 %), while for persons born elsewhere in the EU the lowest rate was in Italy (19.6 %) and for persons born outside the EU the lowest rate was in Belgium (17.8 %).

Unemployment

Having fallen between 2013 and 2019, the EU unemployment rate increased in 2020 for all populations: native-born, persons born in a different EU Member State and persons born outside the EU

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 2020, the overall EU unemployment rate among people aged 20-64 years was 6.9 %.

The EU unemployment rate for the native-born population was consistently lower than the unemployment rate for migrant labour throughout the period from 2010 to 2020 (see Figure 8); the gap was particularly high between the rates for the native-born population and persons born outside the EU. After the global financial and economic crisis, the differences between unemployment rates for the native-born and foreign-born populations widened. The gaps reached 5.2 percentage points (in 2014) for persons born in a different EU Member State and 12.2 points (in 2013) for persons born outside the EU. Thereafter, the differences in unemployment rates began to narrow again, reaching their lowest level in 2019. The increase in unemployment rates in 2020 in the different populations was uneven and as a result the gaps widened again. The EU unemployment rate for the native-born population was 6.1 % in 2020, while the rate for persons born elsewhere in the EU was 2.0 points higher (8.1 %) and that for persons born outside the EU was 7.8 points higher (13.9 %).

Figure 8: Development of unemployment rates for the population aged 20-64 years, EU, 2010-2020
(%)
Source: Eurostat (lfsa_urgacob) and (lfsa_urgan)

An analysis for the individual EU Member States confirms that unemployment rates were generally lower for native-born rather than foreign-born populations (see Figure 9). Croatia was the only exception among the 24 Member States (for which data are available for 2020), with a higher unemployment rate for its native-born population than for its foreign-born population (a difference of 1.4 percentage points). At the other end of the spectrum, the unemployment rate for foreign-born persons was 13.7 points higher (than the rate for the native-born subpopulation) in Sweden and 12.2 points higher in Greece.

Figure 9: Difference in unemployment rates for the native and foreign-born population aged 20-64 years, 2020
(percentage points; rate for native-born - rate for foreign-born)
Source: Eurostat (lfsa_urgacob)

In 2020, the lowest unemployment rates for persons born in a different EU Member State were registered in Czechia (3.0 %), Malta (3.9 %), the Netherlands (4.0 %), Germany (4.4 %) and Hungary (4.6 %). The highest unemployment rates for persons born in a different Member State were recorded in Greece (22.8 %), Spain (19.2 %) and Italy (12.6 %). Unemployment rates were generally higher for the population born elsewhere in the EU than they were for the native-born population, although this was not the case in France. Otherwise, the difference between these two rates ranged from almost no difference in Portugal (0.2 percentage points higher for the population born elsewhere in the EU) to 4.1 points higher in Italy, 5.8 points higher in Spain and 7.4 points higher in Greece.

Figure 10: Unemployment rates for the population aged 20-64 years, by country of birth, 2020
(%)
Source: Eurostat (lfsa_urgacob)

The lowest unemployment rate for persons born outside the EU was recorded in Czechia (2.8 %), while the highest unemployment rates for persons born outside the EU were observed Sweden (21.5 %), Spain (24.2 %) and Greece (28.6 %). In all but one of the 23 EU Member States for which data are available for 2020, unemployment rates for persons born outside the EU were higher than those for the native-born population. The exception was Croatia which recorded a higher unemployment rate for the native-born population. Croatia aside, the gap between unemployment rates for persons born outside the EU and those for the native-born population was narrowest in Lithuania (at 0.1 percentage points) and widest in Greece (13.2 points) and Sweden (17.3 points).

Youth unemployment

The developments for youth unemployment rates followed closely those for overall unemployment rates, although at higher levels

The youth unemployment rate is defined as the number of unemployed people aged 15-24 years 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 following the global financial and economic crisis, the EU youth unemployment rate peaked in 2013, then subsequently fell for six consecutive years. The youth unemployment rate increased in 2020 for all subpopulations, but least noticeably for the native-born subpopulation. In 2020, the population born outside the EU had the highest youth unemployment rate, while the lowest rate was reported 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 unemployment rates for people aged 15-24 years and those aged 25-29 years, with lower rates for the second of these two age cohorts. While in 2019 the unemployment rate for people aged 25-29 born in a different EU Member State had dipped below the equivalent rate for the native-born population, in 2020 the native-born population once more had the lowest unemployment rate (as had been the case between 2010 and 2018).

Figure 11: Development of youth unemployment rates, by country of birth and by age group, EU, 2010-2020
(%)
Source: Eurostat (yth_empl_100)

In 2020, the EU youth unemployment rate for the native-born population aged 15-24 was 15.9 %, while the rates for foreign-born persons were higher: 19.4 % for those born elsewhere in the EU and 27.5 % for those born outside the EU. There was a high degree of variation between youth unemployment rates in the EU Member States, both for the native-born population and for the foreign-born populations. As with the data for the whole of the EU, it was relatively common for the lowest youth unemployment rate to be recorded for the native-born population (this was the case for 13 out of the 16 Member States for which data are available for at least one of the foreign-born populations — see Figure 12 for details of coverage). In Cyprus and France, youth unemployment rates were lower for the population born in a different EU Member State than they were for the native-born subpopulation. In Cyprus and Slovenia, the youth unemployment rate was lower among young people born outside the EU than among the native-born population.

Figure 12: Youth unemployment rates for the population aged 15-24 years, by country of birth, 2020
(%)
Source: Eurostat (yth_empl_100)

Long-term unemployment

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 years. 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 among all unemployed people — also referred to as the long-term unemployment ratio — rose in the EU (for people of all countries of birth combined) from 42.0 % in 2010 to a peak of 52.1 % in 2014. There then followed six consecutive reductions as the ratio fell again to less than a half in 2016 (49.9 %) and to 37.0 % by 2020.

In the EU, there was a relatively uniform share of long-term unemployment in total unemployment in 2020 when analysing results by country of birth. The share for the native-born population was 37.7 %, while the proportion for persons born outside the EU was somewhat lower (at 34.9 %) and that for persons born in a different EU Member State was lower again (at 32.8 %). Figure 13 shows the development of the long-term unemployment ratio over the period from 2010 to 2020, with the lowest proportions consistently recorded for the population born elsewhere in the EU. It should be noted that, despite the relatively large increase in the unemployment rate in 2020, the long-term unemployment ratio fell sharply. This indicates that the rise in the number of newly unemployed persons in 2020 was greater than the increase in the number of people moving from having been unemployed for less than a year to having been unemployed for a year or more.

Figure 13: Development of long-term unemployment as a percentage of total unemployment for the population aged 20-64 years, EU, 2010-2020
(%)
Source: Eurostat (lfsa_urgacob) and (lfsa_urgan)

A similar analysis is presented in Figure 14 for 2020, with a wide variation in patterns across the 11 EU Member States for which a complete set of data is available. In six of these, the long-term unemployment ratio was lowest for persons born in a different EU Member State. There was one Member State — Greece — where the lowest share of long-term unemployment in total unemployment was recorded for persons born outside the EU and four Member States — the Netherlands, Luxembourg, France and Belgium — where the lowest long-term unemployment ratio was recorded for the native-born subpopulation.

Figure 14: Long-term unemployment as a percentage of total unemployment for the population aged 20-64 years, by country of birth, 2020
(%)
Source: Eurostat (lfsa_upgacob)

Cyprus recorded the largest gap between the share of long-term unemployment in total unemployment for persons born in a different EU Member State and the corresponding ratio for the native-born population: the share for the native-born population was 21.0 percentage points higher. By contrast, in France the share for persons born in a different EU Member State was 9.9 points higher than the share for the native-born population.

A similar situation was observed for Belgium concerning the population born outside the EU, as its share was 11.7 points higher than for the native-born population; Estonia, Denmark and Sweden all recorded differences of 10.8 or 10.9 points in the same direction. By contrast, in Cyprus the long-term unemployment ratio among its native-born population was 10.4 percentage points higher that the ratio observed for persons born outside the EU.

Data sources

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 years 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 subpopulations, 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 subpopulation for EU-LFS statistics;
  • non-response — one disadvantage of the EU-LFS is the high percentage of non-response that is recorded among migrant subpopulations, 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 subpopulations (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 subpopulations. The results for the migrant subpopulation 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 subpopulation determined by country of birth and the foreign subpopulation 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 and 25-29 years — these age cohorts represent the youth population;
  • 20-64 years — this cohort has been selected as it represents a core working age.

Symbols

Tables in this article use the following notation:

  • a value in italics is used to show where a data value is forecasted, provisional or estimated and is therefore likely to change;
  • a colon ‘:’ is used to show where data are not available (including confidential and unreliable values).

Context

Successful integration of migrants into society in the host country is a key element for maximising the opportunities of legal migration and making the most of the contributions that immigration can make to development.

The continued development and integration of the EU migration policy remains a 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 EU 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.

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