The number of migrants applying to work in the UK is steadily falling, according to government figures.
Home Office statistics revealed the number of immigrants from the so-called A8 countries – those that joined the EU in 2004 – fell by 20,000 between 2006 and 2007.
Between October and December 2007, the number of applications received was 50,000 – a 23% decrease compared with 2006.
John Philpott, chief economist at the Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development (CIPD), said this showed that work-related migration had passed its peak.
“The slower inflow may in part reflect weaker recruitment activity towards the end of 2007, although it is more likely due to more Eastern Europeans finding it easier to work closer to home,” he said.
“The rate of inflow will probably fall further this year, though by how much will depend on the relative buoyancy of the UK and wider EU economies in the wake of the global economic slowdown.”
The figures mean employers could no longer take for granted the availability of a steady supply of willing and eager workers from Poland and other less developed EU states, Philpott warned.
Separate data showed that, following the inclusion of Bulgaria and Romania into the EU at the start of last year, a further 30,570 people from those countries were granted applications to work in the UK.