EU immigrants aren’t taking Brits’ jobs

by Sam Ashworth-Hayes | 01.06.2016

Myth: EU immigrants are taking Brits’ jobs

InFact: Researchers at Oxford, the LSE and NIESR agree; immigration doesn’t affect British employment. Meanwhile, Brexit would hit jobs.

More information

Allied to the myth of EU immigrants putting “colossal downward pressure” on wages is the idea that migrants take jobs that could have gone to British workers. The Express published perhaps the purest – and most South Park-ian – version of this story in February, running the headline “MILLIONS of EU migrants grab our jobs”.

Intuitively, if immigrants are taking jobs from British workers, it would seem odd that we’re seeing a record high employment rate of 74.2% at a time when immigration is high. This intuition is borne out by a string of academic studies – from the Centre for Economic Policy at the London School of Economics, the Institute for the Study of Labour, and the Migration Observatory at the University of Oxford – that show EU migrants aren’t putting Brits out of work.

The idea that every migrant worker takes a British job is known as the “lump of labour fallacy”. Immigrants can and do compete with British workers for existing jobs, but they also create new ones. Migrants, not just from the EU, directly create jobs when they start businesses and take on staff, something they are almost twice as likely to do as native Brits. They also create jobs indirectly, by adding to demand for the goods and services made by British workers. And by providing skills in short supply, they help companies compete better and so create yet more jobs.

That’s all well in theory, but it’s not enough to prove that immigrants aren’t taking jobs from British workers. That also requires some number crunching.

A survey of existing research from the Migration Observatory at the University of Oxford found that studies show no significant impact of immigration on UK-born employment or unemployment.

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    Using more recent data, Jonathan Portes of the National Institute for Economic and Social Research points out that “even in the short term EU migration does not appear to have had a negative impact on the employment outcomes of UK natives”.

    This view is shared by the Centre for Economic Policy, which concluded that “we can confidently say that the empirical evidence shows that EU immigration has not had significantly negative effects on average employment, wages, inequality or public services at the local level for the UK-born.”

    What’s more, Brexit could trigger a recession. That would certainly be bad for British jobs – with the young particularly badly hit.

    Contacted for comment, the Daily Express newsdesk said: “Do you have nothing better to do?”, before hanging up.


    Edited by Hugo Dixon

    8 Responses to “EU immigrants aren’t taking Brits’ jobs”

    • What planet is Sam cam diary on? Firstly French have never liked us, they use to burn our meat yrs ago.
      2nd Cameron surprised he’s not getting any thanks for what he’s done. Ugh!!! What has he done? All I can see is, he’s brought Britain to its knees especially with NHS then the lies ww3 where’s that from. Recession, WHY?
      THE BLOODY MAN WANTED TO BREXIT LAST YEAR! What changed his mind. List can go on for Cameron (scamcam) (camscam) which ever you prefer.
      Sam cam diary you write like a playground bully well done

    • Sam cam I forgot to mention about migrants not taking our jobs, what! Try saying that out aloud in the middle of Manchester,Birmingham,Newcastle,Leeds,Cumbria, Scotland , even London.
      WE HAVE NO HOUSING, JOBS even money

    • Nice piece. Of course there is another bit of simple logic that helps shatter the myth. Migrants are undoubtedly coming to the UK and finding jobs, but those jobs were there before the migrants arrived and clearly haven’t been claimed by Brits. So, the jobs migrants are taking are not being ‘stolen’ – they are jobs which native British either do not have the skills for, do not want for some reason, or are simply too lazy (or maybe too proud) to accept.

    • Please read and spread comment from the LSE about the post brexit economic model from Minford et al with very accurate dismantling of the position of those economists for brexit. Article titled: “The ‘Britain Alone’ scenario: how Economists for Brexit defy the laws of gravity”. It is really an eye opener on the damage on the economy Uk is going to inflict itself in case of brexit

    • L Johnson, the brutal reality post brexit (as advocated by Minford – co-chair of Economists for brexit) is that all the emphasis in a post brexit UK will be on service sector with the natural extinction of the manufacture sector and even further suffering of the farming sector (read their economic manifesto and his online comments, plus the actual comments from the LSE about this economic model). UK workers after brexit can shout whatever they want about jobs lost but then no one else to blame than themselves voting for brexit. Even if after removing (by very empyrical/absurd assumption) all the EU immigrants after brexit still Uk people won’t be employed in their places (jobs concentrated in few areas of UK, UK people simply not availavble as already employed, economic damage post brexit with companies not investing, thus no jobs created or even jobs restricted in order to cut costs – POrt Talbot issue will be even more dramatic post brexit).

    • A couple of weeks ago, Iain D. Smith said publicly on BBC radio that business owners told him the reason they used E. European workers was because they did not have to pay the NMW (Nat. Min. Wage). Staggeringly, he received a round of applause for this admission. Considering the NMW is a legal requirement, why did he not prosecute these companies? Or name and shame them? Or even have stern words with these bosses? He was only the Work and Pensions Secretary for six years after all!!!! One has to assume he did non of the above, hence his admission of failure.

      Not to mention the very fact that Smith is a champion of workfare / MWA (Mandatory Work Activity) where a jobseeker does work in receipt of benefits. Even if one thinks the unemployed should be doing work of some king for their benefits, the fact is businesses using such labour are NOT paying a wage. Why should I as an unscrupulous type pay you as little as £15,000 p/a when I can get a couple of workfare ‘trainees’ to cover your hours for nothing? As a result the DWP, JCP and the dodgy W2W (Welfare to Work) sector undercut wages more than any immigrant could be accused of doing.

    • immigrants are taking jobs. They take construction jobs for less money than the minimum wage consequently my local construction company has not been able to to compete and has gone out of business. Many of these workers also take cash in hand and do not pay taxes. They often live in multi- occupancy rented accommodation ( squalor) and can make life difficult for their neighbours. They may setup small businesses, but they often employ their own nationalities so that they can pay less than the going rate. Lots of people like this work in the catering industry and can’ t speak English or understand simple requests. There are more beggars on the streets and groups of young men loitering in parks and public places. My local shopping area is full of immigrants and I seldom hear an English. Voice. The quality of the shops has diminished and I no longer feel safe in my own neighbourhood.the transport system cannot cope with the increased numbers and stations often need to be closed. The hospitals are crowded.i see immigrants demanding interpreters and I cannot understand some of the staff who speak poor English but no one interprets for me. The schools are oversubscribed. And lots of immigrant children need extra help. The immigrants can use the health service freely as we have no systems in place to collect fees or to monitor who is entitled to free treatment. The posters are just there to cover this up . People who come and live here often want to bring their elderly relatives here and their children . We even pay child benefit to those people with children in their countries and who checks on this. I could say more. This country is too crowded!,,,