Foreign worker influx slowing down

The influx of foreign workers decreased by 12% in the first seven months of 2023, despite a doubling in the annual rise of foreign health workers.

Information provided by the Minister for Finance and Employment in reply to a parliamentary question by Government MP Naomi Cachia indicates that the influx of foreign workers in the first seven months of 2023 was 12% lower than in the same period in 2022. This occured despite a doubling of the annual increase in foreign health workers.

During the first seven months of 2023, the increase in foreign workers from EU/EEA/EFTA countries decreased by 298 compared to 2022, while the increase in third-country workers was 924 lower. In fact, the influx of workers from the EU/EEA/EFTA was the lowest observed in the last five years, except for 2020 when there were the effects of Brexit and the pandemic.

The number of workers from the EU/EEA/EFTA in July 2023 was 5% more than in December 2022. When it comes to workers from third countries, the amount last July was 12% more than in the previous December. In percentage terms this is the lowest increase in the last five years, except for 2021, when there were many travel restrictions due to the pandemic.

When looking at the sectors in which foreign workers have increased one notes the biggest increase has been in the trade, transport, and information and communication sectors. This reflected mostly strong demand for workers in the transport sector, which had the largest ever annual rise observed.  It was in this light that the Government introduced restrictions on foreign workers working in the private passenger transport sector.

The second and third largest increase in the number of foreign workers was in accommodation and food services, and in professional and administrative services. In these sectors, however, the increase in 2023 was significantly lower than that observed a year earlier. Between them, these sectors saw an increase of around 3,000 workers in 2023, against almost 4,300 workers a year earlier.

Two other sectors where demand for foreign workers was significantly lower than before were construction and art, entertainment, and recreation. In construction the increase in 2023 was only 343, or the lowest in the last five years. In arts, entertainment, and recreation the number of foreign workers decreased.

In contrast, there was a greater increase in 2023 for foreign workers in both manufacturing and the public administration, health, and education sectors. In manufacturing, nearly a thousand foreign workers were added, the largest increase ever observed. In the field of public administration, health, and education the increase was 1,118, almost double a year earlier and even here it was the largest increase ever observed in history. This was mainly due to a large influx of foreign workers in the health sector, to provide more services.

Photo: Tim Samuel

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