The importance of the London factor in overseas worker numbers

For many people arriving from overseas, London is the first choice as the place to settle and find work. The most recent full year figures for non-UK citizens registering for a National Insurance number show that 334,000 of the 820,000 are in London. That’s just over 40%.

But looking at the detailed breakdown for nationality groups and the historic patterns show that some nationalities are more London-centric than others.

The biggest new factor in the data for 2014/15 is the rise in the number from Romania and Bulgaria, the so-called A2 European countries. They joined the EU in 2007 but restrictions were placed upon free movement to the UK until the start of 2014.

Anyone seeking to work or claim benefits in the UK needs a National Insurance number, and in the first full year of access to the UK 152,00 Romanians and 40,000 Bulgarians applied.

66,000 Romanians chose London as their base. That is 44%. The South East was the second most popular choice.

NI Romanians UK

About the same proportion of Bulgarians decided upon the capital. The South East, East and West Midlands are other favourite locations, as they are with Romanians.

NI Bulgarians UK

The biggest group of overseas workers in the UK is from Poland. Poland joined the EU in 2004 as one of the so-called A8 countries of Eastern Europe. But the pattern of NI registrations by Poles shows they are far less focused on London. In 2004/05 when free access began 61,000 came but a little less than a third settled in London.  Numbers went up in the following years, but the rate fell and currently stands at 21%.

The other growing group of arrivals in the London labour market is Southern Europeans. In 2014/15 35,000 Italians registered for NI in London. That’s 60% of the total for the UK. And a pattern of London largely favoured over over the rest of the UK  can be seen over the past 10 years.

Since the economic crisis of 2008 the numbers of workers from Italy, Spain, Portugal and Greece have risen. Italy and Spain have traditionally been first choice labour markets for Romanians, so their numbers arriving in the UK may be linked to the poor economic situation in Southern Europe.

Data for the next few years will reveal whether Romanians and Bulgarians will follow the A8 pattern with significant numbers working in locations across the UK or if they will remain more  London-centric like Southern Europeans.

Source data

See also

What National Insurance really tells us about London’s overseas workforce

Where in the world would you like to work?

 

 

What National Insurance really tells us about London’s overseas workforce

The release of the latest data on National Insurance registrations by people from overseas offers a good insight into economic migration into the UK. The headlines on the release of the data focused on the rise in Romanians. That was certainly the case, but the detailed data and longer-term trends show the changing patterns of new arrivals and give clues as to what drives people to come or stops them from doing so.

The financial year 2014-15 saw a substantial jump in the number of people from outside the UK seeking to work in London. The number registering for a National Insurance number in the capital was up by 38% on the previous year to 334,419. That’s around 40% of total registrations for the UK.

Anyone looking to work in the UK or claim a benefit needs an NI number, including the self-employed or students working part time. Although people may have been in the UK some time before they apply for a NI registration the data is seen as a useful proxy for migration rates and has the benefit of being based on hard figures rather than the survey estimates used to calculate migration totals.

The biggest and the fastest growing group are Romanians. Registrations in London increased by 200% in year, rising from 22,000 in 2013-14 to 67,000 in 2014-15.

NI all overseas

Romania and Bulgaria joined the EU in 2007 but were not allowed free access to work in the UK given to other EU citizens until January 2014. The number of Bulgarian registrations in London went up to a little over 18,000, a rise of 178%.

The figures show that it is not just the new members of the EU that are increasingly coming to London but people from southern Europe. After Romanians the biggest single national group last year were the 35,000 Italians.

NI leading nations

The historical data shows how there has been a strong and sustained growth in people coming to work in London from southern Europe (Italy, Spain, Portugal and Greece) since the economic crisis of 2008.

The economic woes in southern Europe that has pushed many of its workers to the UK may also be a factor influencing the decision of Romanians and Bulgarians to come. Traditionally Romanians have headed primarily to Spain and Italy to find work outside their own country.

The change to restriction, allowing access to the UK labour market, is the trigger for the 2014 spike in what the EU refers to as the A2 countries (Romania and Bulgaria) but that spike may be sharper due to economic circumstances in their preferred southern European labour markets.

The cumulative totals for workers from Spain, Italy and Romania show the southern Europe effect. The spike in 2014 for Romanians may have been a more gradual rise since the economic downturn since 2008 if the restrictions had not been in place.

NI Sp It Rom cumulative

For the EU’s co called A8 nations, the Eastern European states of Czech Republic, Estonia, Hungary, Latvia, Lithuania, Poland, Slovakia and Slovenia, the trend is steady over recent years. Led by workers from Poland registrations soared after they joined the EU in 2004. The financial crisis in 2008 led to a drop in arrivals but that there has been a gradual increase since then as the UK economy recovered.

Workers coming from Europe are the dominant overseas groups in London. In 2009/10 they accounted for 40% of London registrations. By last year that had increased to 78%.

The data for Asian registrations helps explain this change. NI registrations by people from Asia had climbed steeply in 2009 but fell sharply from 2011 onwards as the Cameron government introduced new restrictions on migrants that applied only to those from outside the EU.

Figures for the first quarter of this financial year (April – June) show registrations from Romania and Bulgaria continue to be a dominant factor. If the trend for the A8 nations from Eastern Europe is repeated then this will continue to be the story for the next few years.

Source data

See also

The importance of the London factor in overseas worker numbers

New workers stick together and head north of river as they settle in the capital

Where in the world would you like to work?

Poles and Pakistanis help shape the multi-cultural make up of the city

 

 

London “most influential” global city

city towersLondon is the most influential city in the world thanks to its pre-eminence as a global financial capital and its location, according to business publisher Forbes.

While the United Kingdom is described as a “second-rate power” the capital leads the list for global influence judged by 8 criteria.  Researchers ranked cities according to the amount of foreign direct investment they have attracted, the concentration of corporate headquarters, number of business niches they dominate,  ease of air travel to other global cities, strength of services like legal and accountancy, financial services, technology and media power, and racial diversity.

The top five cities were:

  1. London
  2. New York
  3. Paris
  4. Singapore
  5. Tokyo

Location plays an important role in London’s ranking. Forbes says that being outside the US and the eurozone keeps it away from, what it called, “unfriendly regulators”. It has the second best air connections in the world, beaten only by Dubai. And it has a time-zone advantage over American in doing business with Asia.

History and tradition play a part too. Forbes says that London is the birthplace of the cultural, legal and business practices that define capitalism.  As the home of the English language it boasts a powerful position in media and advertising.  London has also become Europe’s leading tech start up city

New York came second in the Forbes list though in separate rankings for economic power and as a smart city, both reported by Urbs, it outperformed London.  The top two were some way ahead of third place Paris in all criteria. Singapore was the leading Asian city outperforming the mega cities of China and Japan. Dubai is the only city in the Middle East to make the top 10, thanks, says Forbes, to its globalisation strategy and a population diversity that has made it the crossroads of the world.

The size of the cities was of less importance. Of the top 10 on the list only 3, New York, Tokyo and Beijing, are ranked in the top 10 of the world’s most populous cities.  The cities of the so-called BRIC nations are becoming more important and Beijing, Hong Kong and Shanghai are all in the top 20. Poor infrastructure means it will be some time before Brazil and India break into the top flight of these rankings, says Forbes.

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