Since 2004, U.K.‘s workers from Latvia top 26,000

During the past two years, immigrants from Latvia have made up 6 percent of the total who have moved from the new European Union countries to the United Kingdom in search of work, according to a new report from the Home Office.

Immigrant workers from Latvia numbered 26,745 from the second quarter of 2004 through the second quarter of this year, according to the most recent Accession Monitoring Report released Aug. 22. The number represents only the Worker Registration Scheme applications approved by the government, not the total number of applicants.

Workers from Poland led the way, making up 62 percent of the more than 427,000 immigrants to Great Britain and Northern Ireland to come from the new EU countries. Immigrants from Lithuania were 12 percent of the total; from Slovakia, 10 percent; from the Czech Republic, 5 percent; from Hungary, 3 percent; from Estonia, 1 percent, and from Slovenia, less than half a percent.

Latvia and the other countries, as well as Cyprus and Malta, joined the EU in 2004. Citizens of Cyprus and Malta may freely travel and work in the United Kingdom, the report notes, but those from the other new EU member states are restricted through the the Worker Registration Scheme.

The number of migrants from Latvia whose applications to work were approved hit a peak of 4,165 in the second quarter of 2005, but has since leveled off to about 2,500 per quarter.

Workers from the new EU countries are overwhelmingly young. Of the total, 43 percent are ages 18-24, while another 39 percent are ages 25-34.

Over the past two years, the largest number of workers from Latvia—9,675—found jobs in administration, business and management services, according to the report. Another large group—6,835—found work in agriculture. A total of 3,370 worked in hospitality and catering, while 2,205 worked in manufacturing.

Andris Straumanis is a special correspondent for and a co-founder of Latvians Online. From 2000–2012 he was editor of the website.

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