OECD releases immigration statistics report for 2004

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The Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) has released its International Migration Outlook report for 2004. An estimated 3 to 3.5 million immigrants achieved official long-term residential status in the countries they have moved into. This statistic includes people who already were living there on temporary basis and changed their status.

The three leading gainers in new migrants saw changes from 2003 to2004 for the United States (+240,300, +34%), Italy (+34,600, +28%) and the United Kingdom (+51,900, +24%). The jump in 2004 (for the EU nations) is attributed in large part to the incorporation of the new EU-15 nations in May, 2004 into the European Union, combined with Britains open border policy and strong economy.

Britain has now surpassed Germany as a destination for long-term migrant workers, as Germany showed second in the greatest loss of incoming labor, at 202,300 total for 2004 (-36,100, -15%).

The total long-term immigrants for 2004 for each country are 946,100 for the U.S., 266,500 for the UK, and 156,400 for Italy. The British government estimates are for 494,000 in 2004. The discrepancy, nearly double the OECD statistics, is explained as relating to many students counted as long-term but who, in fact, only stayed for a short while.

Also, approximately 345,000 foreign workers were registered in the UK until the end of 2005, but many of them also were not the more strictly defined long-term migrants as determined by the OECD.

Official data from Germany, Japan and Italy also had higher estimates than the OECD, probably for the same reasons as provided by the British government. For the United States, Canada, and New Zealand the OECD's figures are much closer. Official data in those countries are based more specifically on work permits (or "green cards") and match the OECD criteria more closely.

In Britain, construction, agriculture, hospitality and catering, and food-processing industries were industries particularly noted by the Home Office as attracting large segments of workers, predominantly from Eastern Europe.

Finland beat out Germany for the greatest drop, percentage-wise, in immigrants entering their labor market (5,600 for 2004, down from 7,500 in 2003, a decrease of -25%). New Zealand faired slightly better than Germany to take third on this end of the scale, seeing 41,600 new long-term workers for 2004, down 14% from 2003. New Zealand continues to aggressively compete with Britain and other countries for skilled workers, specifically in IT, engineering, environment and teaching.

Temporary, seasonal, and contract workers also saw a general gain for a ten-year trend, increasing by approximately 7% to 1.5 million for

2004 over 2003. New Zealand, Japan, Australia, France and Germany were noted as having very significant increases in foreign students, which is also a generally increasing category worldwide.

[ Last edited 12 June, 2006 for formatting and clarity. ]