Where do EU migrants in the UK work?

EU migrants are more likely to work in some sectors of the UK economy than others. The industry groups employing the largest number of people born in EU countries are manufacturing (15% of the EU born in 2015), wholesale and retail trade (12%), health and social work (11%) and hotels and restaurants (10%). These are big sectors that also employ large numbers of UK-born workers.

If we look at employment of people born in EU countries as a share of all workers in an industry, the pattern is slightly different. In 2015, 13% of workers in the accommodation and food services industry were born in EU countries—roughly double the average of 6.6% EU born people in employment overall. EU migrants were also overrepresented in admin and support services (10%) and manufacturing (10%). By contrast, education, health and social work (5%) and public administration (3%) relied relatively less on people from EU countries.

Percent of sector’s workforce who were born in EU countries, 2015

Industry groupShare of workers in industry who were born in EUShare of EU born who are working in this industry
Health/social work5%11%
Accommodation/food service13%10%
Admin and support10%7%
Public admin/defence3%3%


Source: Migration Observatory analysis of Labour Force Survey, weighted average of four quarters, 2015. Excludes industries with fewer than 50,000 EU born workers.


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