Growth of Labor Migration Provokes Hostility in Host Communities

A new study estimates 164 million people are migrating to foreign countries in search of work, an increase of 9 percent since 2013.

The majority of migrant workers are men between the ages of 25 and 64, according to the International Labor Organization’s second edition of Global Estimates on International Migrant Workers. While the number of migrant workers in upper-middle-income countries has grown, the report finds the vast majority head for richer countries in North America, Europe and the Arab region, particularly the Gulf States.

Manuela Tomei, director of the ILO Conditions of Work and Equality Department, tells VOA most of the people who migrate for work are low skilled, and employed in fields such as construction, agriculture, the hospitality industry or as domestic help.

She says migrant workers are a key factor in boosting the economies and development of rich countries and in the higher brackets of upper-middle-income countries.

“Their main contribution is through the work, the services that they provide to host communities in sectors and occupations, in jobs in which often nationals are not interested to work any longer,” Tomei said.

Unfortunately, she noted, the influx of migrants into foreign countries often creates a backlash. Instead of welcoming the workers as being beneficial to their societies, host communities often react with hostility.

In coming years, she said, these workers increasingly will be needed because of demographic trends and rapidly aging populations. Labor migration is a long-term trend, she added, urging governments to learn how to manage workers for their mutual benefit.

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