Ukrainian refugee influx could ease euro zone labour shortage: ECB

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People flee from Russia's invasion of Ukraine, in Zaporizhzhia

FRANKFURT – The influx of Ukrainian refugees into the European Union could gradually ease labour shortages in the euro zone as some of those fleeing the war are likely to settle permanently, the European Central Bank said on Monday.

Around seven million people, mostly women and children, have fled Ukraine so far since Russia launched its invasion on Feb. 24, and more are leaving each day, with many hoping to find durable employment opportunities in the 27-nation EU.

“Under all of the assumptions detailed thus far, back-of-an-envelope calculations point to a median increase of between 0.2% and 0.8% in the euro area labour force in the medium term,” the ECB said in an Economic Bulletin article.

“This corresponds to an increase of between 0.3 and 1.3 million in the size of the euro area labour force as a result of the Ukrainian refugee crisis,” it added.

With unemployment at a record low, the euro zone has been struggling with increasing labour shortages and the influx of refugees could “slightly ease” labour market tightness, the ECB said.

Still, getting people to work may prove difficult due to administrative barriers, the ECB added.

“Barriers to the labour market and other frictions remain significant impediments to refugees, making it difficult for them to integrate into host countries’ labour markets, especially in the short term,” it said.

(Reporting by Balazs Koranyi; Editing by Gareth Jones)

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