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Rich world needs more foreign workers: report

Tuesday, December 02, 2008

GENEVA —  An international migration organization appealed Tuesday to countries to keep open their doors to immigrant workers despite the global economic crises.

The International Organization for Migration said that, despite the current downturn, rich nations will continue to need foreign workers to fill jobs their shrinking work forces cannot or will not do.

In its 4th World Migration Report, the Geneva-based intergovernmental body said there are more than 200 million migrants around the world today.

Developed nations compete for highly skilled immigrants, but there is also a growing need for low-skilled workers in rich countries, the report said.

Planning immigration is "especially important during downturns in the global economy such as the one we are witnessing today," said Gervais Appave, one of the editors of the report.

Appave said the Asian financial crisis in the 1990s demonstrated that the need for immigrant workers continues, even during times of economic hardship.

"There's always jobs that the host population don't want to do," said IOM spokeswoman Jemini Pandya. She said that, in many countries, the demand for workers in health care, domestic care and service industries will continue to grow.

Europe hosted the largest number of immigrants, with 70.6 million people in 2005, the latest year for which figures are available, the report said.

North American, with over 45.1 million immigrants, is second, followed by Asia, which hosts nearly 25.3 million.

Most of today's migrant workers come from Asia, and demographic data suggest that by 2030, China and India will provide 40 percent of the global work force, the report said.

An average of nearly 1.4 million people per year left each of several areas _ Asia, Latin America and the Caribbean _ between 2000 and 2005, historically high levels that are expected to be smaller in the future, the report said.


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