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In the latest findings published by the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development in its 2021 report titled ‘International Migration Outlook’, it was found that the COVID-19 pandemic and its repercussions have led to the highest ever decline in immigration ever. The annual report was published on 28 October and analyses recent developments in migration movements and the labor market inclusion of immigrants in OECD countries. The report is also available in French and English.

The OECD (called Organization de Coopération et de Développement Économiques in French) is an intergovernmental economic organization with 38 member countries. It’s aim to stimulate economic progress and world trade between member countries. (Source: oecd.org)

The ‘International Migration Outlook’ also monitors recent policy changes regarding migration governance and integration in all member countries. It contains two special chapters

  1. In-depth analysis of the fiscal impact of migration in OECD countries after mid 2000s
  2. The causes and consequences of the residential segregation of immigrants

The biggest takeaway from the report is that COVID-19 put an abrupt stop on almost 10 years of continuous progress for immigrants’ labor market outcomes. In 2020, rate of migrant unemployment increased by 75% by the odds of three out of four countries.

Quote by the OECD: “Migration flows to OECD countries declined significantly, with much of the progress in migrant integration achieved over the past decade wiped out in just one year in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic”

In countries with large job retention schemes employed during the crisis, the labor market outcomes of immigrants have not changed significantly due to significant return migration. The immigrants most affected were from Latin America and the Middle East. 

Permanent migration flows in 2020 decreased by over 30% (3.7 million) the lowest ever since 2003. In all the 38 member countries, one out of ten immigrants were unemployed in 2020.

Temporary labor migration declined most notably in the following countries: (Percentages indicate negative numbers):

  • Australia (37%)
  • Japan (66%)
  • Korea (57%)
  • United States (37%)
  • Canada (43%)

Family migration declined the most in 2020, with all categories of permanent migration undergoing a slump. In temporary migrations, labor migration decreased by over 58%. The flow of seasonal agricultural workers was slightly better, only declining by 9% with patterns seeing an increase in countries like the U.S and Poland.

Asylum seeking declined by 31%, which is the largest drop since the Balkan crisis ended in the early 1990’s. Immigrants from Venezuela, Afghanistan, and Syria applied for asylum the most, however, only 34,400 refugees were resettled.

In all member countries, international migrants are prone to travel / settle in the certain areas which make it more concentrated than others, e.g.: the poorer neighborhoods and the outskirts of large metropolitan cities. However, this is variable by case and affected by both geography and historical settlement patterns.

Overall, lesser people applied for study permits, with the decline most significant in both the U.S and Canada by a massive 70%. The decline in Europe member countries was lesser at 40%.

The number of new asylum applications in OECD countries fell by 31% in 2020, resettlement of these refugees / migrants by a significant 65%.

As countries all over the world start to get back on track and open their border to immigrants, Stefano Scarpetta, the OECD Director of Employment, Labor and Social Affairs, advises countries to have post-pandemic recovery plans in place and to pay special attention to the immigrant integration to make their migration smoother without any discrimination or disadvantage.

Full report can be read here: ( https://www.oecd.org/migration/international-migration-outlook-1999124x.htm )

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