Global migration rose last year after three consecutive annual declines, according to a report from the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development, an international economic policy group with 34 member countries across five continents.
The group's 2012 International Migration Outlook report found increased permanent migration in many countries, which may indicate expanded corporate relocation efforts. New Zealand, Australia, the United States and some parts of Europe saw gains. However, migration declined in prominent nations such as Sweden, Italy and Spain.
The increases seen in some countries reversed losses from the previous year. In 2010, migration to the U.S. dropped 8 percent. The 24 European OECD countries saw net declines of 3 percent without counting inter-European moves. Countries such as Mexico, Canada and Korea experienced increases of 10 percent or more during that time due to job demand.
"Labor market developments and migration flows are closely linked," said OECD Secretary General Angel Gurria. "The decline in labour demand has been the driving force behind the fall in migration during the crisis, not restrictions imposed by migration policies, as our 2012 Migration Outlook shows."
Gurria further explained that long-term labor market needs must be addressed in the coming years. Changes may be needed to ensure policies are in line with the global economic recovery, particular those that assist migrants with integrating into their new culture.
Younger workers set to grow in importance
Some young expatriates still face job issues in new countries, according to OECD, and lower levels of job training mean that they face higher levels of unemployment or underemployment compared to local workers. New expatriates made up 70 percent of all new workers in Europe during the past 10 years, along with 47 percent of new U.S. workers.
The need for these new workers is also expected to grow in the future. The group says many foreign skilled workers will be needed in OECD countries in order to balance retirements from baby boomers.
Companies should ensure their relocation efforts and policies are properly focused to account for the approaching wave of employee retirements. A lack of preparation may create a talent vacuum in which positions become difficult to effectively fill.