‘Demand for migrant labor tripled in past decade’

Published by rudy Date posted on December 20, 2021

by Pia Lee-Brago – The Philippine Star, 20 Dec 2021

MANILA, Philippines — As exemplified by the many roles of migrants considered “essential” during the COVID-19 pandemic, a new International Organization for Migration (IOM) report highlighted an increase in demand for their labor.

Over the past decade, migrants in the worldwide labor force have tripled, according to the new IOM Global Migration Indicators (GMI) 2021 report released last Thursday.

The COVID-19 pandemic has highlighted the key role that migrant workers play in the global economy, as well as the “terrible risks” that they are forced to take to find work.

Citing an Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development data, the report said foreign doctors account for 33 percent of the United Kingdom’s physicians, and that there is an overall reliance on foreign health care workers in Europe and the United States.

There are nearly 170 million foreign workers globally, according to the latest IMO estimates – more than triple the 53 million registered in 2010.

The report indicated that foreign-born workers play a growing role in the labor force, making up an estimated five percent of today’s global workforce.

“As we celebrate International Migrants Day this week, this report stands as a clear reminder of the role migrants play in the development of their communities worldwide,” IOM’s Global Migration Data Analysis Centre (GMDAC) director Frank Laczko said.

“But while the global economy continues to rely heavily on migrant workers, people continue to face terrible risks when they cannot access legal pathways in their search for better opportunities,” he added.

The report said the outbreak of the COVID-19 pandemic early last year has had a profound effect on migration and human mobility. Extensive mobility restrictions have been implemented within and between countries to prevent the spread of the coronavirus, leading to major changes in mobility patterns worldwide.

“Beyond these shifts in flows, migrants play an important role in many sectors vital to addressing the COVID-19 pandemic but are also exposed to higher risks of contracting the virus. The pandemic has also exacerbated existing socioeconomic vulnerabilities for many migrants,” the report said.

There were an estimated 169 million migrant workers globally in 2019, making up nearly five percent of the global labor force. Nearly two-thirds or 66.2 percent were in the service industry, and well over half (60.6 percent) of all migrant workers were located in three regions: Europe (24.2 percent), North America (22.1 percent) and Arab States (14.3 percent).

In the Arab States, more than 41 percent of the total labor force were migrants, making it the region with the highest proportion of migrant workers.

Among all migrant workers worldwide, an estimated 70 million are women, comprising approximately 41.5 percent of migrant workers. The estimated 99 million male migrant workers thus outnumber females globally, but with significant regional variation.

The vast majority of migrant workers is between 25 and 64 years old, though an estimated 10 percent are aged 15 to 24 and another 3.6 percent are aged 65 or older.

The GMDAC also flagged that remittances sent home to lower and middle-income countries have outpaced foreign aid.

Remittances, which are the money or goods that migrants send back to families and friends in their country of origin, are widely considered to be the most direct and measurable link between migration and development.

Though remittances are private funds, the $540 billion in remittances worldwide in 2020 far exceeded the sum of foreign direct investments ($259 billion) and overseas development assistance ($179 billion), according to the World Bank this year.

In 2020, the top five recipient countries for remittance inflows in current US dollar value were India (83 billion), China (60 billion), Mexico (43 billion), the Philippines (35 billion) and Egypt (30 billion).

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