Sadiq Khan has again called for the government to give non-UK European nationals the right to stay in the country, saying that a million Londoners (out of at least 8.7 million) are “of EU origin”. He and the London Assembly have previously drawn attention to London’s dependence on the labour of EU nationals from outside the UK. There are migrant workers in London from many other parts of the world too.
London First, the organisation that represents the capital’s larger employers and its universities, and professional services giant PwC have recently published a report drawing together key facts supplied by the Office for National Statistics about London’s global workforce. Such as:
- The total London workforce is just under 5.2 million people.
- 3.2 million of these (62%) were born in the UK.
- 682,300 were born in other EU countries (13% of the total).
- 1.3 million were born elsewhere in the world (25%).
The report says there’s been substantial growth in London’s workforce as a whole since 2005, when it stood at 4.3 million. During the ensuing ten years the number of non-UK EU workers more than doubled from 326,700 and the increase in those from elsewhere in the world rose at an even faster rate. They are up by a million.
Why do people from overseas come to London in the first place?
In the case of those from elsewhere in the EU, the report says that “about half” move to the capital for immediate employment, around 15% arrive initially to study and just over a quarter come to live in London because they are dependents of either a UK or foreign citizen already here.
With non-EU migrants, the breakdown of reasons found is different: about 20% come directly for work, 20% to study and “just under half” because they are dependents of someone, UK citizens or otherwise, already here.
What jobs do London’s migrant workers do?
Creative industries: of the approximately 400,000 people employed in this sector in London (which includes such as the arts, film, TV, advertising and marketing but excludes technology jobs), 14% are from EU countries other than the UK, 11% are from non-EU countries and 75% are UK-born.
Construction: of the roughly 300,000 people employed in this industry in London, 30% were born in other EU countries, 20% outside the EU and 50% in the UK.
Financial services: of the approximately 300,000 people employed in this industry in London, 15% were born in other EU countries, 25% outside the EU and 60% in the UK.
Hospitality: of the 250,000 people employed in this line of work in London, 30% were born in the EU, 40% were born elsewhere in the world and 30% were born in the UK.
Wholesale and Retail: of the 250,000 people employed in this sector in London, 12% were born in other EU countries, 32% elsewhere in the world and 56% in the UK.
National Health Service: of the approximately 175,000 people employed by the NHS in London in all types of jobs, around 25% are migrant workers and 75% were born in the UK. The figures in the report suggest that the 25% are split roughly evenly between people born in non-UK EU countries and people born in other foreign countries. About 13% of doctors in the NHS in London are from other EU nations. The report notes that “for decades, the NHS has depended on foreign workers to fill its staff shortages”.
Transport: of the just over 200,000 people employed in this sector in London, 10% were born in EU countries other than the UK, 41% were born in countries outside the EU and 49% are UK-born. This is the employment sector with the lowest proportion of UK-born workers.
What else do migrant workers do for London?
The report calculates that London’s migrant workers as a whole generate £83bn a year, which is about 22% of the city’s economic output (measured as GVA). That’s an average of £46,000 a year for every migrant worker in a full-time job.
These are just the topline figures from the report, which provides plenty of deeper analysis too. You can read the whole thing via here.