Contrary to expectations, the flow of immigrant workers to Iceland has not decreased much this year, according to the Directorate of Labor. During the first six months of 2008, 2,500 new workers from the new EU countries were registered, 430 in June alone.
During the same period in 2007, 2,640 foreign workers were registered. That number should, however, have been higher, because this year the Directorate of Labor has been much stricter about companies registering their foreign-born workforce, as the head of the directorate, Gissur Pétursson, told Morgunbladid.
There are currently between 18,000 and 19,000 workers of foreign origin in Iceland and 80 percent of them are Polish. Most of the companies registering immigrant workers this year are companies involved in tourism like restaurants and hotels.
According to Erna Hauksdóttir, managing director of the Icelandic Travel Industry Association (SAF), foreign-born workers have been an important part of the Icelandic tourist industry for many years. It is difficult to recruit Icelanders to certain jobs in the industry, she said.
Pétursson said earlier predictions had assumed that the number of immigrant workers in Iceland would decrease by up to 4,000 this year. This development is slower than expected, but Pétursson believes it will take a rapid downswing next fall.