Comments: Migrant mess

David,

For really impartial analysis, speak to the Joint Council For The Welfare of Immigrants/Refugees. (JCWI) They (should) be able to point you in the right direction without relying on New Labour speak...

Posted by Pete Balchin, Solicitor at October 31, 2007 02:46 PM

Leaving aside any view on the benefits or otherwise of immigration, I'd like to make the following points:

1. Given that most new jobs have gone to immigrants, is the economic growth record of this government really any good? Yes, the economy has grown steadily, but if we have needed to import many immigrant workers to maintain this growth, are we really any better off? It's growth per head that matters to wealth, not absolute growth levels.

2. Even if we believe government figures, they show that of the jobs 'created' for indigenous workers, the majority of them have been in the public sector since immigrants don't, for the most part, get public sector jobs (the NHS is perhaps the only significant exception). Also, as the government employs directly only about 20% of the working population, but spends over 40% of wealth and as the proportion of GDP spent by the government has been increasing, then it's reasonable to infer that much of the private sector jobs growth has been generated through supplying the public sector. This all adds up to a situation where the likelihood is that there has been little or no indigenous jobs growth in the 'true' private sector. As someone who works in the (internationally competitive) private sector and not in an area where there are any public sector customers, this confirms my view that the sector has not grown at all in recent years - in fact it has shrunk. I know many highly skilled technical people who have struggled to find work.

Posted by HJHJ at November 1, 2007 11:01 AM

I just read an editorial in 'The Business' in which it says that:

"Between the spring of 2002 and spring 2006, migrant workers managed to fill 740,000 vacancies; the native-born job total remained static."

If this is true, it means that, as the number of public sector jobs was rising strongly during this period, then the private sector indigenous jobs total was actually falling strongly.

Posted by HJHJ at November 1, 2007 12:07 PM

And here's a classic example of that. One of my bosses mentioning to the press that he expects all our new chip developments to go to India.
Needless to say, the 1500 or so European employees involved are up in arms. Here's the link "NXP to shift chip development to India":
http://www.eetimes.com/news/latest/showArticle.jhtml?articleID=202602753

We haven't had an above inflation pay rise for 5 years.
We basically need to find alternative work that cannot be outsourced.
Whilst economic textbooks tell us that globally we are all better off. For individuals it involves re-training at vast (like approx 100K - 200K) expense if we count loss of earnings and training courses.

Posted by Nick Thorne at November 1, 2007 08:24 PM

While I sympathise with Nick's situation, surely that is an example of offshoring, not an immigration effect.

One of the problems with the data in this area is that we cannot tell with certainty what the split is between indigenous employment and jobs filled by migrant workers. But on the face of it the picture is worse than The Business suggests. Figures released a couple of weeks ago show that between mid-2002 and mid-2007 foreign-born employment rose from 2.305m to 3.269m, while native-born employment dropped from 24.426m to 23.948m.

Posted by David Smith at November 1, 2007 09:32 PM

Nick,

Believe me, I sympathise with your situation. I used to work in the semiconductor industry. I know exactly what a disaster area it has been - that's why I'm not in it any more. I earn less than I did five years ago for exactly this reason.

It does go to show that all the government cant about low skills jobs going abroad is complete rubbish - it's about whether the jobs can only be done locally or not, regardless of skill level. I can't think of an industry with higher average skills levels than the semiconductor industry and it has shed jobs like nobody's business in the last few years.

David - offshoring and immigration are related. One of the things we have seen in this country in recent years is increasing salaries for those occupations where there is either no overseas competition (because they have to be done locally) or where immigration doesn't hold down wages. Medicine, law, accountancy and the public sector are good examples - largely closed shops, strong unions and no overseas competition (often due to local law or similar). On the other hand if your job can be done overseas or if an immigrant can (and is allowed) to do it and if you don't have a union (such as the BMA) to protect you, you've had a much tougher time.

This is not an anti-immigrant rant, nor is it a call for protectionism. Far from it - I believe in competition - but I'd like to see everyone subject to the same competition. Having to pay the high costs of protected groups whilst suffering fierce competition yourself makes it impossible to compete. I read an interesting article in the electronics press recently. Companies offshoring skilled engineering work are not somehow 'exploiting' people in India - it's just that an engineer requires three times the salary in the UK to have the same standard of living as in India. When you realise that you can get a medical procedure done for a tenth of the price in India compared to here, you wonder why the medics are in secure and well remunerated employment here, whereas engineers here are losing their jobs and their pay levels are depressed thanksto Indian competition.

Meanwhile the trade deficit gets worse and worse....

Posted by HJHJ at November 1, 2007 10:02 PM

HJHJ, I agree with your points and I'd like to add that my conclusions are the same after looking at this problem having been out of work for over a year (and this is for someone in the IT field with a higher degree and 30 years experience) it seemed that the people around me who had thrived were artisan types such as builders, burger flippers and anyone who provided services to the general public not available off shore. I would like to add that although not mentioned in these comments, he general perception is that those indigenous out of work must be either inept or lazy and living a fine life on benefits. I can assure you getting those benefits is not easy, nor is the fortnightly job search interview with an advisor a useful experience. For the most part the JSA for example only lasts 6 months if you any kind of savings.

The other point is that there are two sides to employment: the applicant and the employer. You need both sides to make a match for it to work so I believe that a lot of the problems concerning immigrants getting jobs in preference to locals are due to employers not choosing indigenous applicants over immigrants due simply to their prejudices. Impossible to prove I know but there are many well qualified and able unemployed people out there who will be insulted by any suggestion that they are lazy or lacking in skills or not trying hard enough.

Posted by IanG at November 2, 2007 05:58 PM

I'd like to know how much of migrants earnings are being sent overseas to family.

Also, if we have millions of people on the dole/job seekers allowance, why not FORCE the idle persons into taking the jobs that the migrants are - this way less benefits are paid out, less migrants needed, and less stress on the countries resources (roads, waste, energy, housing, water etc).

Posted by Kev M at November 7, 2007 06:56 PM