Immigration and unemployment

A report from Migrationwatch highlighted “the ‘remarkable coincidence’ between the rise in youth unemployment in the UK and the huge surge in immigration from Eastern Europe over the last eight years”.

The Chair of Migrationwatch, Sir Andrew Green, says that “most objective people would consider it a very remarkable coincidence if there was no link at all between them” although he acknowledges that “correlation is not causation”. However, he goes on to argue that “It is implausible and counter-intuitive to suggest – as the previous Government and some economists have done – that A8 migration has had virtually no impact on UK youth unemployment in this period.”

However, National Institute of Economic and Social Research (NIESR) researchers have used National Insurance registrations by foreign nationals to “analyse the impact of immigration on the UK labour market”.

Their results indicate that increased immigration was not associated with increases in claims for Jobseekers Allowance. They say that “Our results… seem to confirm the lack of any impact of migration on unemployment in aggregate. We find no association between migrant inflows and claimant unemployment. In addition, we test for whether the impact of migration on claimant unemployment varies according to the state of the economic cycle. We find no evidence of a greater negative impact during periods of low growth or the recent recession.”

And then there is the report from the Migration Advisory Committee (UK Border Agency) which says:

  • …any link between immigration and employment of British-born people cannot be proved to be causal. Rather, it should be thought of as an association
  • …we find a negative association between working-age migrants and native employment: (i) in depressed economic times; (ii) for non-EU migrants; (iii) for the period 1995-2010.
  • A ballpark estimate is that an extra 100 non-EU working-age migrants are initially associated with 23 fewer native people employed.
  • The associated displacement of British born workers was, on our calculations, around 160,000 of the additional 2.1 million jobs held by migrants, or about 1 in 13.


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