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By Philippe Legrain 3 COMMENTS

Fraser Nelson of the Spectator has made misleading claims about immigration and jobs, which have been echoed in The Express (and also, I’ve just noticed, in the Daily Mail).

Why the focus on private-sector jobs held by people of working age? What’s wrong with public-sector jobs? What’s wrong with older people working?

ONS figures show:

1. Total employment in Britain has risen by just over 2.5 million since Labour took office in 1997, from 26.444 million to 28.986 million.

2. Employment among  people born in the UK has risen by 791,000, from 24.468 million to 25.259 million.

3. Employment among UK citizens has risen by 1.2 million from 25.478 million to 26.691 million.

4. The total employment rate (the proportion of people of working age in employment) is the same, 72.6%, as when Labour took office.

5. The employment rate among people born in the UK is also the same, 73.5%, as in May 1997.

6. The employment rate among UK citizens is fractionally lower, at 73.1%, compared with 73.2% 13 years ago.

So, despite the worst recession since the 1930s, and despite a large increase in migration over the past decade, 2.5m more people in Britain are in work, 0.8m more people born in Britain are in work, and 1.2m more British citizens are in work.

And remember that many of the jobs that have gone to people born outside Britain or who are not British citizens have gone to people who have been in this country for a long time rather than to recent arrivals. What’s wrong with someone who has lived here for decades getting a job?

The bigger point is this: there is not a fixed number of jobs to go around in the economy, so simplistic assertions that foreigners (or foreign-born people) have “taken” jobs that would otherwise have gone to British people are incorrect.

If there were fewer immigrants in this country, there would also be fewer jobs around, because immigrants also create jobs when they spend their wages, and in complementary lines of work. Even Andrew Green of MigrationWatch now concedes that immigrants don’t take “our” jobs.

Posted 08 Apr 2010 in Blog
  1. Mick Satan says:

    Sometimes I think that there is 3lb of solid white pork fat in that skull of yours, Mr. LeGrain, rather than a human brain.

  2. My cousin recommended this blog and she was totally right keep up the fantastic work!

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