Notes: To ensure information contained in the reports reflects the latest available evidence, this series of Migration Trends Reports is being updated on a six-monthly basis for the duration of the Migration Services in Wales project (ending March 2017). Updates are made to each report taking into account new releases on the various sources of data used in the reports.
This report is the first of three migration trends reports to be produced as part of the Migration Services in Wales project, providing quantitative analysis on migration in Wales. The report provides an overview of the key characteristics and labour market outcomes of working age migrants in the Welsh labour market. The discussion begins with a summary of the main demographics of non-UK born and non-UK nationals who live in Wales and continues with an analysis of data on employment, earnings, occupations and industries.
Definitions have a significant impact on the analysis of the number and characteristics of working age migrants in Wales. In most cases, this report defines the migrant population as the non-UK born population. There is no information on place of birth within the UK for the UK-born or place of first arrival for those born outside of the UK. Therefore, those born outside of Wales but within the UK are considered UK-born in this analysis. Wherever relevant and indicated, the briefing also provides data on non-UK nationals residing in Wales. There is significant overlap between those who belong to the non-UK born group and those who belong to the non-UK national group, but many non-UK born individuals are UK nationals and many UK born individuals are non-UK nationals.
All data in this briefing is taken from the four quarters of the Labour Force Survey (LFS). Unlike other data sources, such as the Census of England and Wales, the LFS provides regularly updated information on the number and characteristics of workers in Wales. The LFS is a UK wide quarterly survey of 60,000 individuals. A share of those interviewed for the LFS are of working age and reside in Wales (about 5% each year), and a proportion of the Wales working age residents interviewed are non-UK born (about 6%-7% each year).
Although the LFS is helpful and provides frequently updated information, its sample size limits the detail it can provide. The reader should note that, due to sampling limitations, the characteristics of non-UK born people in Wales are not considered in detail e.g. by age. As a result, the Census is a more reliable source for detailed statistics with breakdowns by local areas, all age groups, countries of birth, passports held and languages spoken. For more information on the migrant population in Wales, please see the Wales 2011 Census Profile. The Maps section of the Migration Observatory website also provides a wide range of maps at local authority level using 2011 Census data for England and Wales.
The characteristics of all non-UK born workers living in Wales are inferred from the responses of those non-UK born Wales residents who are interviewed. This means that while the estimates presented in this briefing are the best possible estimates, these are still subject to margins of error. Readers should exercise caution when comparing figures over time or between groups, as the differences may to an extent be driven by sample variation and not be statistically significant. To highlight changes over time, we use the latest available calendar year for which data is available, 2016, and compare it to 2014 as well as the average for the years 2004-2007 and 2010-2011. Pooling together the earlier survey years expands the Welsh survey sample size and improves the reliability of the information presented.
This briefing includes both men and women aged between 16 and 64 years old, working both part-time and full-time. The average annual wages are estimated for all those respondents of the LFS who are employees and those on a government scheme. Salary figures include wages from the main and secondary jobs.
In UK immigration debates, mobile EU citizens are a key group as they enjoy free movement within the European Union and the government cannot limit their rights to live and work in the UK in the same way that it does for non-EU citizens. The boundaries of the EU have changed significantly in the previous decades. A brief timeline of EU expansions follows:
To facilitate the analysis and allow for more consistent classifications over time, breakdowns by country of birth or nationality include:
Figure 1 shows the number of working age non-UK born people who live in Wales by gender. The number of working age non-UK born residents in Wales was approximately 133,000 in 2016, up by 8% since 2010-11 and 49% since 2004-07. The share of migrants in the overall working age population was estimated 5% in 2004-07 and 7% in 2016. Increases in the number of non-UK born working age people who live in Wales over time are similar across genders, while women make up just over half of working age migrants (70,000 in 2016).
The overall upward trend over time in foreign-born residents in Wales is also corroborated by more reliable Census data for 2001 and 2011 (92,263 non-UK born in 2001 Census versus 167,871 non-UK born in 2011 Census, for more details see here). However, caution should be taken when using survey information to infer on changes over time for particular subgroups, such as across genders, different countries of birth or types of employment.
Figure 2 shows the number of non-UK born working age residents in Wales by country of birth. The number of EU14 born working age Wales residents stood at 25,000 in 2010-11, 21,000 in 2014, and 32,000 in 2016. The number of working-age migrants in Wales who were born in accession countries (A8, A2, Cyprus, Malta and Croatia) is estimated at about 9,000 for the 2004-07 period, about 24,000 in 2014, and 37,000 in 2016. Out of an estimated total of 133,000 working age non-UK born residents in Wales in 2016, the largest group of migrants was born outside the EU (48% of non-UK born). Between 2004-07, approximately 57,000 non-EU born were resident in Wales. In 2016, this is estimated at 64,000.
Figure 3 shows the proportion of those in employment who are non-UK born and non-UK nationals for Wales and the UK. In this discussion, employment refers to those who are in paid work, including employees, the self-employed and those in some government schemes.
In 2016, about 7% of those in employment in Wales were non-UK born and 4% were non-UK nationals. The equivalent for the whole of the UK is much higher at 17% of all those in employment being non-UK born and 11% being non-UK nationals. The share of non-UK born and non-UK nationals in employment has not changed much over time, ranging between 4% and 7% in its 2010-11 peak. For the whole of the UK, the trend over time is upward at approximately 11% in 2004-07, 14% in 2010-11, and 16% since 2014.
Figure 4 shows the share of working age population who are employees, by country of birth and residence in Wales or the whole of the UK. According to broad labour force categories, working age persons are classified either as employees, self-employed, in a government scheme/unpaid family workers, unemployed or inactive. Due to sample size limitations, here we focus on the two largest groups, employees and self-employed.
In Wales in 2016, 59% of non-UK born were employees, compared to 63% of the UK-born. During the same year, in the UK as a whole, 60% of non-UK born were employees, compared to 64% of the UK-born. In 2016, differences in employee rates between residents of Wales and the whole of the UK appear minimal. Due to survey sample size, small variations between years are unlikely to represent significant changes.
Figure 5 shows the percentage of working age population who are in self-employment by country of birth and residence in Wales and the UK.
In 2016, 11% of working age non-UK born and 9% of working age UK-born in Wales reported being self-employed. In comparison with the previous chart, we can see that a smaller proportion of the working age population is in self-employment than employees. Changes over time and differences between UK and non-UK born, however, are small and not statistically significant.
Figure 6 shows the average annual salary in GBP for workers in Wales and the UK who are non-UK and UK born.
In 2016, average annual wages were approximately ¬£22,000 for UK-born and ¬£25,000 for non-UK born workers in Wales. The equivalent average for the UK is higher at ¬£26,000 for UK-born and 28,000 for non-UK born. It is important to point out that the differences in average salaries between the UK and non-UK born are not statistically significant. This may be driven by the small sample size of the survey or by other factors. UK and foreign-born workers differ in education, age, and work experience. When comparing the wages of the two groups as a whole, these differences are not taken into account (Manacorda et al 2008; TUC Commission 2007; Markaki 2014). The disparity in salaries between the UK and Wales is also likely to be driven by higher salaries in areas such as London.
Table 1 shows the top three major occupation groups amongst of non-UK born workers in Wales in 2016. Amongst non-UK born workers in Wales, the largest proportion work in Professional Occupations (26%), followed by Elementary Occupations (16%), and Associate, and Technical Occupations (12%). These represent broad occupational groupings and include a wide range of different jobs across industries (see below for industries), from farm workers, cleaners and car park attendants in Elementary Occupations, to chemists and solicitors in Professional Occupations.
When focusing on each occupational group, data for 2016 suggests that about one in ten workers in Elementary Occupations in Wales were non-UK born. While non-UK born may be more likely to work in Professional Occupations (26% of non-UK born), they still make up a small proportion of all workers in those occupations (10%). The distribution and shares of non-UK born workers across occupations in the UK remained largely the same since 2014.
Major occupation group
% of the non-UK born
% of the UK born
% of all in occupation who are non-UK born
Examples of occupations in category
Chemists, electrical engineers, pharmacists, solicitors
Farm workers, cleaners, messengers, car park attendants
Caring, Leisure and Other Service Occupations
Care assistants and home carers, travel agents, hairdressers, barbers, undertakers and mortuary assistants
Source: LFS 2016 - Wales residents 16-64 years old.
Table 2 shows the top 3 industry sectors in the percentage of non-UK born workers in Wales in 2016.
The largest proportion of non-UK born residents in Wales work in public administration education and health sectors (30% of non-UK born), and in distribution, hotels and restaurants (23% of non-UK born). Approximately 16% of non-UK born in Wales worked in Manufacturing in 2016. On average, the spread of workers across these industries is similar between UK and non-UK born, while on the whole, foreign-born workers make up just about 6-10% of all workers in those industries.
Industry sector in main job
% of the non-UK born
% of the UK born
% of all in industry who are non-UK born
O,P,Q - Public admin, education and health
G,I - Distribution, hotels and restaurants
C - Manufacturing
Source: LFS 2016 - Wales residents 16-64 years old.
The LFS does not contain information on short-term migrants because the survey excludes individuals who have been resident in their households for less than 6 months (Dustmann et al. 2010). Also, the LFS excludes those who do not live in households, such as those in hotels, caravan parks, and other communal establishments; it also excludes halls of residence, thus missing many overseas students (many of whom are known to be working in the UK). Furthermore, the LFS does not include asylum seekers. Finally, the LFS is unlikely to capture migrants working without the legal right to live and/or work in the UK.
Estimates using the LFS are subject to significant sampling variability, as with any sample survey. In each quarter of the LFS, between 143 and 218 working age respondents who reside in Wales are non-UK born. To increase sample size and improve the reliability of the statistics, the analysis pools together all quarters for 2004-2007 (2,798 respondents), 2010-2011 (1,557 respondents), and four quarters from 2014 (773 respondents) onwards. For further discussion see the data sources and limitations section of the Migration Observatory website.