Will labor migration raise after Covid?

The world has been following the uprise of migration flow during the last decade: over 5,6 million refugees of the Syria civil war, since 2011, the fled of around 4,2 millions of South Sudan refugees (2013-2018); the record of 1,3 million migrants asking asylum in Europe in 2015; around 4 million migrants escaping from Venezuela crisis and other cases. Migration has been a global issue mainly for conflicts, climate and political crisis, but now it faces a new challenge: unemployment.

Photo: IOM

Concerns about the economic impact in the pandemic is a daily issue all over the world. The worst economic crisis since 1929 was announced and, as a consequence, the escalation of unemployment rates. The new conjuncture imposed by the pandemic is already signalizing what can be a skyrocket of migration rates, with immense populations moving within and between countries.

We had many changes in the labor world with the pandemic: the number of remote workers increased and now more people can be nomads, living and working from anywhere. Moreover, developing countries economies were deeply impacted , with unemployment rates, which were already elevated, soaring. It may result in scaling up migration flow to developed countries.

The opposite migration flow is also a reality. Migrants who escaped back to pass the pandemic close to their families will be necessary to work in some industries like agriculture, mining and health. In South Africa, for instance, gold and platinum miners are racing to bring back thousands of skilled migrant workers who are crucial to ramping up output following the easing of the nation’s coronavirus lockdown. There are an estimated 44,000 nursing vacancies in the UK, predicted to increase to 100,000 within the next decade. The same pattern is seen in most developed countries. Although COVID-19 will give new ammunition to nationalist borders control, a range of skills, professions, and workers will be especially needed, including for positions as cleaners and helpers, construction and agriculture.

According to the International Labor Organization (ILO) , more than one in six young has stopped working since the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic. Fearing impact on migration, the Trump administration already advanced its policies to restrict legal entrance in The United States, halting the flow of foreign workers and raising the bar for asylum seekers hoping for sanctuary.

Although there will be migrants need for specific industries as agriculture, mining and health in different countries, the post-pandemic tendency for increase in migrations should result in stronger border control. If there is a new normal settling in the world, it seems to be nothing promising for those who want to migrate.

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