Effects of migrant labour 'only last for short-term'


Click to follow
The Independent Online

Immigration from outside Europe is linked to short-term job losses among British workers, but the recent influx of EU nationals has made no difference to unemployment levels, the Government's expert advisers said yesterday.

For every 100 non-EU working-age migrants to Britain in the past 15 years, 23 "native workers" have lost their jobs, according to the Migration Advisory Committee (Mac). But the effect is temporary and the labour market recovers within five years to absorb the displaced British employees.

The Mac said there were 160,000 UK-born workers currently out of work after the arrival of 2.1 million migrants between 1995 and 2010, but it stopped short of saying there was a causal link between immigration and job losses.

David Metcalf, the Mac's chairman, suggested jobs in information technology, where there are skills shortages, and in hospitality and retail, where large numbers of foreign students work part-time, could have been affected. He said large numbers of migrants worked in the health and care services, but this was during a time of a lack of UK workers.

The Mac's conclusion of an "association" between immigration and unemployment, in a report to the Home Office, differs from the National Institute of Economic and Social Research's assessment yesterday, which determined there was no connection.

However, the Mac also said migration from the EU, including Poland, had "little or no impact on the native employment rate" – a finding that runs counter to claims by the MigrationWatch pressure group.

The Mac said immigration made little difference to average wages, although there was evidence it boosted top salaries and depressed the lowest pay rates. It said immigration put pressure on the housing stock, calculating it would need another 112,000 properties to be constructed by 2017. But levels of crime were falling because skilled migrant workers were less likely to commit property crime.