LONDON — Britain recorded its biggest rise in foreign workers since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic in the year to June, driven overwhelmingly by workers from outside the European Union, official figures showed on Tuesday.
Since January 2021, most EU citizens not already working in Britain must be sponsored by an employer and be paid a salary that does not significantly undercut existing wages, after losing their previous almost-unrestricted right to work.
The post-Brexit change puts EU migrants on the same footing as those from the rest of the world, but has drawn complaints from employers who find the process bureaucratic, and a non-starter for most jobs that pay less than 25,600 pounds ($30,760) a year.
Tuesday’s Office for National Statistics data showed the number of foreign-born workers in Britain rose by 223,000 in the year to the end of June, up from an increase of 184,000 in the year to March and the biggest rise since early 2020.
“Migration—a key source of worker shortages through the pandemic—is showing some signs of bouncing back,” said James Smith, an economist at ING.