Migration Plunges in Covid Crisis, Raising Global Economic Risks

International migration plummeted to an unprecedented degree during the Covid crisis, the OECD said, raising concerns over the longer-term outlook for a key driver of the global economy.

Issuance of new visas and permits by the organization’s 37 members fell 46% in the first half of 2020 compared with a year earlier, and the OECD warned that prolonged restrictions and more remote working and studying mean mobility will not return to pre-crisis levels for “some time.”

Migrant workers play a crucial role in sectors including transport, domestic services, IT, and agriculture. The crisis has also highlighted their importance for the health sector as they account for 24% of medical doctors and 16% of nurses.

Migration Plunges in Covid Crisis, Raising Global Economic Risks

“Migration will continue to play an important role for economic growth and innovation, as well as in responding to rapidly changing labor markets,” said OECD Secretary General Angel Gurria. “We need to avoid rolling back on integration and reaffirm that migration is an integral part of our lives.”

Yet immigrants have suffered a greater increase in joblessness than their native-born peers, particularly in Canada, Norway, Spain and Sweden, the OECD said. The contrast is especially acute in the U.S., where their unemployment rate has risen during the crisis from 1 percentage point below native-born workers to 2 percentage points above.

The OECD also said that migrants face greater health risks as they have worked on the front-lines of the pandemic and often live in lower quality housing. Recent progress on integrating migrants in many countries could also be undone as public spending on such efforts falls.

©2020 Bloomberg L.P.

BQ Install

Bloomberg Quint

Add BloombergQuint App to Home screen.