Increase in number of Eastern European workers slows down considerably

14/05/2009 15:00

In February 2009, the number of workers from EU countries in Eastern Europe was 84 thousand, i.e. 10 thousand more than a year ago. The increase is much smaller than in prior years. In the period July 2007–July 2008, the annual increase averaged nearly 50 thousand.

Increase workers from Eastern European EU countries relative to one year previously

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Sharp growth Eastern European workers in 2007

In recent years, the number of workers from Eastern European EU countries in the Netherlands has grown rapidly. In 2007, their number increased from 23 to 68 thousand. On 1 May 2007, the free labour market for workers from countries, which joined the EU in 2004 was launched. The economic boom in 2007 also contributed to the growth.  

Workers from EU countries in Eastern Europe

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Slowdown in winter

With more than 107 thousand, the number of Eastern European workers peaked in the summer of 2008. Subsequently, their number dropped to 84 thousand in February 2009. A slight drop in winter is not uncommon, but last winter the decline was more dramatic than in previous years. The number of Eastern European workers in the Netherlands is higher in summer than in winter due to seasonal work in the agricultural sector. Unlike in the preceding years, the number of workers from East Europe in the first two months of 2009 continued to fall, perhaps as a result of the current economic recession and the slump in the temp agency sector.

The decline was particularly noticeable among Polish workers. Nearly 85 percent of workers from Eastern Europe have Polish nationality.

Half of Eastern European workers have residential address outside the Netherlands

Half of Eastern European workers work for temp agencies and half of workers from Eastern Europe working in the Netherlands in February 2009 had a residential address in the Netherlands.

Terms of employment and living conditions of Eastern European workers, February 2009.

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André Corpeleijn and Michiel Heerschop