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14/01/2012 - Migration & Unemployment: who is right?


There has been a flurry of new reports  concerning the alleged impact of migrant labour on the employment prospects of British workers.
These reports tell different stories. Migration Watch has suggested a link between the influx of workers from Eastern Europe since 2004 with an increase in British youth unemployment. Then, the National Institute for Economic and Social Research (NIESR) said immigration had had little or no impact on the number of jobless benefit claimants. Finally, Migration Advisory Committee (MAC) says that there is indeed  an "association" between non-EU migration and job losses among those born in Britain.
Who is correct? Migration Watch and the NIESR are both biased. Migration Watch believe that immigration must impact upon British workers as the economy cannot sustain a large, short term increase in jobs only a displacement in jobs (from existing the existing workforce to migrants). The NIESR don't believe there is a link and set out to support that view by comparing the number of migrants given National Insurance numbers to the number claiming unemployment benefits. They say it is minimal but this doesn't look at possible 'dispersal' i.e. does it impact more on low-skilled jobs whilst British workers move into higher-skilled jobs?
The MAC report is more thorough and suggests there definitely is an impact, but it too suffers from myopia as it only looks at non-EU immigration (unlike Migration Watch), presumably because it would be politically embarrassing to look at the impact of EU workers since we cannot do much about it (while we remain in the EU at least)! 
All the reports were looking at different data so it is hard to compare. Solidarity believes it is obvious that any large influx of workers, from anywhere, must have an impact. Solidarity suggests that youth unemployment will rise because most migrants take whatever job is available and those are likely to be low skill/low experience - the very jobs that certain young workers might start out on? Solidarity suggests that wage rates in low skilled jobs and professional trades e.g. in the building trade are suppressed as migrant workers will be likelier to accept less, especially if they are single and prepared to sacrifice accommodation space. 
The General Secretary of Solidarity said: 

" I don't blame these workers. After all they are only trying to feed themselves and their families, many of whom they have left at home. Since the cost of living in Eastern Europe and elsewhere is lower than in the UK (and currency rates/variations can add advantage) it can pay to be a migrant worker. Nevertheless, a Government is morally obliged to look after the interests of their people first.  For 'politically correct' reasons and the economic agenda of big business, politicians have been reluctant to tackle this issue as it ultimately comes down to denying someone the right of residence. Indeed, it is a cruel irony that many inner-London black youth have found job opportunity's snatched away from them due to the influx of white Eastern European migrants." 
Solidarity believes that the Political Class do not have the gumption, will or courage to tackle the problem by putting the interests of British workers first. Solidarity however, does have the courage to say that it is time to stop this influx and only allow migrant labour where there is an  shortage of skill which cannot be remedied through education and training. It is time for the Government to stop talking and start to act!
Contact: Solidarity General Secretary, Patrick Harrington on 07794 486858 or &
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