Inflow of Eastern European workers petering out

29/09/2009 15:00

In June 2009, there were 104 thousand workers from Eastern European EU member states in the Netherlands, about as many as in June 2008. The sharp increase in recent years has almost completely come to a standstill in the second quarter of 2009. In the period June 2007–June 2008, the annual growth still amounted to more than 40 thousand.

Substantial increase in 2007

Over the past years, the number of workers from Eastern European EU member states in the Netherlands increased dramatically from 23 thousand to 68 thousand in 2007. This is partly due to the fact that job seekers from countries which joined the EU in 2004 have had free access to the labour market since 1 May 2007. The thriving economy in 2007 also played an important part. In the second half of 2008, the inflow began to level off. This trend continued in 2009.

Increase in workers from Eastern European EU member states relative to one year previously

Increase in workers from Eastern European EU member states relative to one year previously

Still no reduction

In the third quarter of 2008, the number of workers from Eastern Europe reached a record of 110 thousand and subsequently began to decline to 90 thousand in the first three months of 2009. A decline in winter is not uncommon. Due to seasonal work in agriculture, the number of Eastern European workers tends to be larger in summer than in winter. 

In the second quarter of this year, fewer workers came to the Netherlands than in the preceding years. As a result, the number of Eastern European workers in June 2009 was approximately the same as in June 2008, but a reduction has as yet not been observed despite the economic recession and the declining demand for temporary personnel. Nearly 85 percent of Eastern European workers in the Netherlands are of Polish nationality. About half of them have a residential address in the Netherlands.

Workers from Eastern European EU member states

Workers from Eastern European EU member states

More Eastern European temps in second quarter

In the second quarter of this year, half of Eastern European workers worked for temp agencies, an increase by 14 percent relative to the second quarter of 2008. This is in contrast with the overall trend in the branch, where the total number of temp hours was reduced by 14 percent compared to twelve months ago.

Eastern European workers by type of contract, January 2008–June 2009

Eastern European workers by type of contract, January 2008-June 2009

André Corpeleijn and Michiel Heerschop