In Ireland, where the unemployment rate hit 12.0 percent in the second quarter (Q2) of 2009, there were 25 percent fewer nationals from new EU Member States employed in Q2 2009 compared to Q2 2008. At the same time, the number of Eastern Europeans in Ireland who were unemployed more than doubled, from 12,000 to 29,100. While non-Irish nationals made up 15.8 percent of Ireland's labor force in Q2 2008, a year later they accounted for only 14.2 percent.
Over the same period, the employment level for UK citizens went down 1.6 percent and the level for all non-UK nationals decreased 2.0 percent. The total unemployment rate in the United Kingdom as of July-September 2009 was 7.8 percent.
According to provisional 2008 data from the UK International Passenger Survey, emigration among A8 citizens began rising in early 2008, from 32,000 for the year ended March 2008 to 66,000 for the year ended December 2008.
Immigration of A8 citizens reached an all-time high in the year ended December 2007, at 109,000. But immigration dropped to 79,000 for the year ended December 2008. For A8 nationals, net migration in December 2009 was at its lowest point since the A8 joined the European Union.
UK national insurance number (NINO) data provide additional evidence that fewer Eastern Europeans are arriving (any non-UK citizen looking to work or claim benefits/tax credits in the country must have a NINO). The number of NINOs issued to citizens from the new EU Member States dropped 23 percent from their peak of 332,440 in 2007-2008 to 257,040 in 2008-2009. But the decrease for Polish nationals was 36 percent over the same period, from 210,660 to 134,360.
When migrants lose their jobs, they have less money to survive on and to send home. In terms of remittances, the $338 billion total for 2008 came in above World Bank expectations, for the most part due to very large increases of remittances to India ($14.4 billion more than in 2007) and China (+$9.7 billion), as well as Bangladesh (+$2.4 billion) and the Philippines (+$2.3 billion).
In the case of India, the increase was mostly due to currency exchange fluctuations and extremely favorable conditions for purchasing real estate.
The World Bank projected in November that remittances will drop 6 percent to $317 billion for 2009, largely because of the recession.
According to Migration Policy Institute analysis of Central Bank data, the countries that have experienced the steepest declines between 2007-2008 and 2008-2009 are Turkey, Moldova, Poland, Ecuador, Morocco, Mexico, and Kenya. In contrast, remittances to South Asia have risen, not surprising given India's substantial increase in 2008. Also, many South Asian migrants work in the gulf countries, where the recession has not been as severe.
With 31 percent of Moldova's GDP coming from remittances, the decrease there is far more significant than the one in Turkey, where remittances are just 0.2 percent of national income. Ecuador has suffered because its migrants are concentrated in recession-battered Spain and the United States.
The World Bank reported that remittances to Mexico declined 13.4 percent for the first nine months of 2009 compared to a year earlier but noted that the downward trend for all of Latin America appears to be bottoming out.
Since many economists are predicting a jobless global recovery, immigrants will probably not be much better off in 2010 than they were in 2009.