Fraser Nelson misses the mark on Jobs for Foreigners

Fraser Nelson of the Spectator has been making the headlines today with his report that the jobs growth since is almost entirely accounted for by increases in foreign workers.

However, whilst the two figures might be the same in size, they are not actually the same thing.  Nor did today’s debate did not bring out the full difference. You must remember that the unemployment is now higher than in 1997 due to the recession. Netting this out means that at an equivalent point in the cycle, there are more jobs for British workers, as well as there being jobs for the recent immigrants. The implication that many might draw – that foreign workers are taking British jobs – is therefore harder to sustain. Also to get a more balanced assessment, you would have to see the proportion of foreign workers that have returned home (e.g. the Poles in the building trades) as a result of the recession. If it is in the hundreds of thousands, the British economy benefits from their work, but does not have to fund their unemployment.

To be also be fair on Gordon Brown, the large numbers on benefits is a separate issue. In the absence of immigration, the extra jobs would not have emerged. Instead you would have had some of the boom choked off by much higher rates for trades people and cleaners. Remember the £100,000-a-year plumbers before the Poles arrived?

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