ILO’s latest survey on migrant workers reveals insightful results

International migrant workers up by five million in two years

Since 2017, the number of international migrant workers has increased globally to 169 million. This is a 3% rise that was estimated lately by the ILO (International Labor Organization).

It’s interesting to note that the share of youth migrant workers has also gone up by close to 2%. These individuals aged 15-24 come to 3.2 million migrants. In 2019, their number touched 16.8 million.

ILO’s new report shows that in 2019, international migrant workers constituted close to 5% of the global labor force. This resulted in them becoming the world economy’s integral part.

But close scrutiny reveals that many migrant workers are still in informal, unprotected, or temporary jobs. As a result, they face a greater risk of layoffs, insecurity, and worsening working conditions.

The COVID-19 crisis has made these vulnerabilities more impactful. This is more so for women among migrant workers. They are over-represented in low-skilled and low-paid jobs. Their access to social protection is limited and they get fewer options for support services.

High-income countries and the absorption of migrant workers

Over 2/3rd of international migrant workers are found in high-income countries. Of the total international migrant workers on the globe, 63.8 million are in Central Asia and Europe. Another 43.3 million are in the Americas. That means, Central Asia, Europe, and the Americas collectively host 63.3% of all migrant workers in the world.

Asia, the Pacific, and the Arab states, each host close to 24 million migrant workers. This is 28.5% of all migrant workers.

There are 13.7 million migrant workers in Africa, which is 8.1% of the total population of migrant workers.

Most of the migrant workers, i.e., 99 million, are men. Women constitute only 70 million of the global migrant worker population.

As migrant workers, women face more obstacles in the socio-economic aspects. They are more likely to migrate along with family members. This mostly is due to reasons other than finding work.

They have a high probability of experiencing gender discrimination in employment. They also are more probable to lack networks. This makes it hard to handle work and family life in a foreign country.

Increase in young job seekers

The share of youngsters in the global population of migrant workers has gone up from 8.3% in 2017 to 10% in 2019. The high rates of unemployment in many developing nations could be the reason for this increase. Most of the migrant workers, i.e., 86.5%, are still adults at the prime age of 25 to 64 years.

The services sector, the top employer for migrant workers

The lion’s share of international migrant workers in many regions of the world delivers essential jobs in sectors deemed critical such as transportation, healthcare, services, food processing, and agriculture.

As per the report, 66.2% of migrant workers are in services. In the industrial sector, their presence is 26.7% and in agriculture, it comes to 7.1%.

Going by gender, it’s found that there’s a higher women representation among migrant workers in the services sector. An explanation for this may be the growing demand for labor as care workers in healthcare and domestic work. The presence of men among migrant workers is more in the industry sector.

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