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Ukraine Refugees Could Ease EU Labor Shortage: ECB

FILE: Ukraine refugees waiting in a crowd for transportation after fleeing from the Ukraine and arriving at the border crossing in Medyka, Poland, Monday, March 7, 2022

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, 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 labor 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 labor 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 worker shortages and the influx of refugees could "slightly ease" labor market tightness, the ECB said.

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

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