Ukrainians are filling in the gaps not only in the Polish labor market, but also in the country's demography as 1-1.5 million of immigrants from Ukraine are reported to be working in Poland.
Most of them come for seasonal work, and it will be they who will be one of the first barometers of changes in the labor market, Rzeczpospolita reports.
The decisive role will be played by the economic calculation of both foreign workers and Polish employers. If problems arise, companies will begin to consider the costs of employing immigrants, including the cost of their resettlement, transportation, or administrative services.
After all, they will have to pay for speeding up the procedure for issuing work permits in Poland, the publication notes.
In turn, workers, once noticing a decline in the Polish labor market, will not stick around to receive lower salaries or face the prospects of being fired. Instead, they turn to seek opportunities in other countries' markets.
Thus, they could become a buffer that would protect the local labor market against a large increase in unemployment.
Something similar happened with Polish immigrants in Ireland, who after the crisis in 2008 left for Scandinavian countries or Germany.
From January 2020, Berlin will open its labor market more widely to cadres from outside the EU. This will become an additional incentive for some Ukrainians to move from Poland.
In the event of a worsening situation in the Polish labor market, a no less important buffer that can restrain the growth of unemployment may be demography, namely, a reduction in the working-age population.
According to the Polish Statistical Office (GUS), in 2020 this category of Poles will be reduced to 22.8 million. This is 484,000 people fewer than in 2018 and more than 1.2 million fewer than in 2015. But it may turn out that with a reduced labor market, many firms will still struggle to find employees.
A worsening of the situation would greatly mitigate corrections in the demographic balance through immigration policies. Also, in difficult times, the risk of the rising anti-immigration rhetoric in political circles increases, which the Poles in the UK have experienced themselves. In addition to unemployment and a decline in real wages, demography would dispel hopes of the return of Poles to their home country after spending several years abroad.