More foreigners moving to Iceland than predicted and fewer moving away

So far this year approximately the same number of foreign citizens have moved to Iceland as have moved away.

A Directorate of Labour specialist says that the creation of jobs in the service sector in Iceland has led to the number of foreigners moving to the country equalling the number leaving — despite the ongoing economic difficulties.

The Icelandic Sociological Society last Thursday held a symposium on economic developments in Iceland, with special emphasis on unemployment. Karl Sigurðsson from the Directorate of Labour spoke at the event on the subject of relocations to and from Iceland and quoted from Statistics Iceland figures on foreign nationals.

“What is perhaps remarkable about the figures is how many have immigrated to the country in the three years since the economic crash. And the number of foreigners has gone down very little in the last two years,” he told RÚV, saying that it is quite remarkable under the circumstances.

In 2009 nearly twice as many foreign nationals moved from Iceland than to it. The figure normalised slightly last year, when 3,000 foreigners moved to Iceland and 3,500 moved away; and so far this year the arrival and departure numbers are more or less equal.

Some of the people are moving to Iceland to be reunited with family and there has also been a lot of demand for people in all sorts of service jobs, Karl says.

Asked if the figures surprise him, Karl said: “Yes, you could say that. We expected that there would be more foreigners leaving the country than there actually were. And not so many people moving to the country after the collapse.”

The figures contrast with native Icelanders, who are still leaving the country in greater numbers than those moving home.