There are currently some 164 million migrant workers around the globe, marking a rise of nine per cent from 2013, the UN said Wednesday.
An International Labour Organisation report found that migrant workers make up about 4.7 per cent of the global workforce, and that the lion share of them are employed in high-income and upper middle-income countries.
The report, based on UN numbers from 2017, defines migrant workers as people older than 15 who have moved to a country in search of work or were seeking or had found employment after moving to a foreign country.
The 164 million figure marks a clear jump from 2013 data, which counted the number of migrant workers at 150 million.
The report, released amid growing scepticism of a UN pact set to be adopted next week in Morocco aimed at helping better manage global migration flows, includes data on both regular and irregular migrants.
The data also covers refugees who enter the labour market, the ILO said.
The global migrant population swelled from 232 million in 2013 to 277 million last year.
But Manuela Tomei, director of the ILO’s Conditions of Work and Equality Department, told reporters that the increased numbers could also be linked in part to the fact that better data had made it possible to expand the number of refugees counted among migrant workers by 19 million compared to the 2013 figures.
She warned against the growing perception of migration as a ‘crisis’ and against describing migrant arrivals as ‘an invasion’, the sort of language which she said was sparking ‘insecurity and anxiety in host communities’.
‘There are real positive gains, dividends’ that come with migration, both for the migrant’s country of origin and for the host country, if managed properly, she said, urging countries to endorse the global migrant compact.
Migration is not going to stop, Tomei stressed, insisting that ‘since this is a global and universal phenomenon, the response in order to govern it effectively needs to be global.’
According to Wednesday’s report, a full 58 per cent of migrant workers — 96 million of them — are men, marking an increase of two percentage points from five years earlier.
‘While growing numbers of women have been migrating autonomously in search of employment in the past two decades, the discrimination they often face because of their gender and nationality reduces their employment opportunities in destination countries compared to their male peers,’ Tomei said.