Immigration and Unemployment

A new report:

More than 100,000 young Britons may have been pushed into unemployment by the new wave of Eastern European immigrants, an economic analysis on the impact of migration has revealed.

Mhm Hmm.

Since 1997, 1.5 million foreign workers have entered the British workplace, with many of these arriving from Eastern Europe in the past three years since the European Union expansion. This new group typically earns 40 per cent less than British workers.

Since 2004, the number of unemployed British 18 to 24 year olds has increased by 100,000, according to the study. "There is some evidence that the growth of immigrant employment seen in the last few years may have come at the expense of the domestic workforce," the report concludes.

They also report that interest rates are lower, the economy as a whole is larger, trend growth is higher etc etc

But let\’s think about those 100,000. Ignore the other points for a moment. We\’ve got 1.5 million hugely benefitting from the much higher wages here than they would have got (if they would have got any at all) in their native countries. We\’ve got (taking these numbers as presented) 100,000 sufffering from the good fortune of those 1.5 million. And at some point we need to weigh those two effects in the balance. 1.5 million benefit and 100,000 don\’t looks like an increase in total human happiness to me. Thus the whole process is a good thing.

It is of course possible to take an opposite view. That for 100,000 of us Brits to suffer is a great deal worse than whatever benefit might accrue to 1.5 million Johnny Foreigners. If that\’s what you think then carry on, go right ahead: while I\’m perfectly willing to agree that there\’s something special about us Brits I\’m not sure that valuing J. Foreigner at 1 fifteenth of a Brit is valid.

20 comments on “Immigration and Unemployment

  1. Some politician was saying on QT/AQ the other day (it might have been Charles Kennedy) that immigrants had actually paid more into the exchequer in taxes than they had taken out in benefits and services. No citation, though.

  2. Hmmm. But surely, the UK government (or any government, for that matter) should put the interests of its own citizen’s first? If e.g. ten UK citizen’s are taken hostage by 150 foreigners, is it not acceptable for the SAS to kill all the hostage takers to free our chaps?

  3. I like Tim’s argument. We should immediately liquidate all UK assets and send the money to China. After all what is the discomfort of 60 million compared to the benefit of 1.2 billion.

  4. These figures do keep changing as does the explanation. Were those 10,000 “pushed out” of jobs or were they unemployable and employers got somebody else in order to stay in business and compete? If that is the case – as, I am afraid, it often is, given our education system – then should the government be protecting its own citizens and forcing their hiring at the expense of the employers?

  5. Helen: perhaps the government should get its nose out of the education system altogether, and allow a functioning alternative to develop; the result is likely to be a generation of citizens worth employing in preference to foreign imports. Condemning our children to a life of ignorance then insisting that businesses employ them despite it does not seem to be a sensible option.

  6. “They also report that interest rates are lower, the economy as a whole is larger, trend growth is higher etc etc”

    Tim,

    As you know, and as I have rehearsed in almost every one of your posts on immigration over the past two years – not only does it seem that long, it actually has been that long –

    1. How does immigration spur growth? By reducing wage rates and thus hiking profits.

    “1.5 million benefit and 100,000 don’t looks like an increase in total human happiness to me. Thus the whole process is a good thing.”

    This assumes that all the migrant Poles living 16 to a room are all happier than they would be back in Warsaw. OK.

    “That for 100,000 of us Brits to suffer is a great deal worse than whatever benefit might accrue to 1.5 million Johnny Foreigners.”

    Well, yes.

    “If that’s what you think then carry on, go right ahead: while I’m perfectly willing to agree that there’s something special about us Brits I’m not sure that valuing J. Foreigner at 1 fifteenth of a Brit is valid.”

    Tim, come on…that’s just silly…

  7. “How does immigration spur growth? By reducing wage rates and thus hiking profits.”

    No, it also increases the total amount of production taking place within an economy. If the marginal output of an immigrant worker is higher than an average member of society (which is likely, since only about half of us are in the labour force) then average income per head is boosted by immigration.

    “This assumes that all the migrant Poles living 16 to a room are all happier than they would be back in Warsaw. OK.”

    Given that they could, if they so wished, fly home for less than a day’s minimum-wage-wages, the burden of proof is definitely on you to show they’re somehow being compelled to remain…

  8. “Tim, come on…that’s just silly…”

    Why Martin? 1.5 Million benefit, 100k don’t. In order for the 100k to be more important, each of them must be more important than 15 of the immigrants.

    That’s not a ridiculous point to make at all.

  9. The British government should serve the interests of the British people, not humanity. British policy making should value British welfare over foreigners’ welfare by a lot more than 15-1. It should be absolute. Either immigration is good for Britain or its a form of self-sacrifice and charity. We need to make our minds up.

    Incidentally, the report probably didn’t mention the welfare loss people suffer by living with people who are more different to them than otherwise would have been the case. People are uncomfortable with people who are different to them, the sooner we stop pretending otherwise the better.

  10. “No, it also increases the total amount of production taking place within an economy.”

    No, not if displacement is taking place. And before anyone can say ‘Economics isn’t a zero sum game’,

    “If the marginal output of an immigrant worker is higher than an average member of society (which is likely, since only about half of us are in the labour force) then average income per head is boosted by immigration.”

    Immigration has driven up GDP per capita by about the price of a Mars Bar per week, last time I looked at the numbers. Some income. Some boost.

    “Given that they could, if they so wished, fly home for less than a day’s minimum-wage-wages, the burden of proof is definitely on you to show they’re somehow being compelled to remain…”

    Nope, no burden on me, Chief. There is a very great gulf between being happy about doing something and not feeling compelled to do it. You are equating them. That is your mistake, and not my problem.

    “Why Martin? 1.5 Million benefit, 100k don’t. In order for the 100k to be more important, each of them must be more important than 15 of the immigrants. ”

    Well, no. Whether another person is important or not is a decision I do not feel qualified to make. What I do know is that those 100,000 had an expectation to be able to find work which they now can’t get, because of decisions in respect of which their consultation has never been sought; the expansion of the EU in 2004 and before that the ideological dismantling of the British state since 1997.

    Sorry, when did helping the world find work become the responsibility of British citizens? Have I missed something? Can’t they work in their own countries? Isn’t mass immigration the rest of the world’s saying that the rest of the world is pretty much crap? And doesn’t allowing the rest of the world to move here remove any incentive the rest of the world have to clean up its own mess? No matter how many great ethnic restaurants we get?

  11. “Immigration has driven up GDP per capita by about the price of a Mars Bar per week, last time I looked at the numbers. Some income. Some boost.”

    I wonder, if I stole £15 billion over 10 years, would I be able to point out that was only a Mars Bar per week per capita?

    “There is a very great gulf between being happy about doing something and not feeling compelled to do it. ”

    What in hell are you talking about? Polish people who hate living in cheap flats and working for low wages in the UK will tend not to come here. People who do come here in the belief they won’t mind the conditions but actually do can go back easily. Poland is not riven by murder, genocide, civil war or starvation, so the ones who are here have come through choice rather than anything that could sanely be described as ‘compulsion’.

    Or is this some Marxish ‘false consciousness’ bollocks?

    “Sorry, when did helping the world find work become the responsibility of British citizens?”

    As far as I’m concerned, a government exists:
    1) for the very broad libertarian functions of a state – an army, a court system, etc.
    2) for public goods that benefit me which wouldn’t be built under any plausible market system
    3) to redistribute income from the fortunate to the less fortunate.

    Given the extent to which the British-born ‘less fortunate’ have lucked out by being born here in the first place, I’m delighted that government policy is disfavouring them and favouring those without their starting advantages.

  12. “The British government should serve the interests of the British people, not humanity. British policy making should value British welfare over foreigners’ welfare by a lot more than 15-1. It should be absolute.”

    Which British people are we talking about? The unemployable ones, the people who would rather sit on welfare than get a job or employers and consumers, who are more than 100,000. What you are saying is that the first group should be privileged at the expense of everybody else in this country.

  13. “What you are saying is that the first group should be privileged at the expense of everybody else in this country.”

    Hear hear. I’d much rather go to my local restaurant and get served by a Polish immigrant than to fork over higher taxes, pay higher prices and put up with poorer service from unqualified indigenous workers.

    The job of Government surely is to take my interests into account every bit as much as the unemployable illiterates?

  14. John,

    You write,

    “I wonder, if I stole £15 billion over 10 years, would I be able to point out that was only a Mars Bar per week per capita?”

    ?

    “Polish people who hate living in cheap flats and working for low wages in the UK will tend not to come here. People who do come here in the belief they won’t mind the conditions but actually do can go back easily.”

    Sorry, do you recruit Poles for a living? Is this what makes you an expert? Or is this just you cranking out libertarian theory on autopilot?

    “Poland is not riven by murder, genocide, civil war or starvation,”

    Thus far…

    “so the ones who are here have come through choice rather than anything that could sanely be described as ‘compulsion’.”

    OK, so you acknowledge that for this to have to come to pass, Poland must be more crap than the UK; which does not not necessarily mean that it is the responsibility of people like me to ensure that Poles have better earning opportunities. See my point above.

    You then write some libertarian rubbish which has no relation to any kind of government that the United Kingdom has ever had, and conclude,

    “Given the extent to which the British-born ‘less fortunate’ have lucked out by being born here in the first place, I’m delighted that government policy is disfavouring them and favouring those without their starting advantages.”

    Well, to my mind that makes you a xenophilic bigot. If you prefer the company of Poles to that of your fellow citizens, move to Poland.

    Helen,

    Nice mouthful of ignorant cliches about unemployables sitting on welfare. Hits all the right notes for most of Tim’s readership. I only hope that you and your never have to make any use of the benefits systems. Think it can’t happen to you? Think again…

    Without wishing to sound wishy-washy, I, you know, actually encounter some of these ‘unemployable’ wallahs from time to time. Know how many would grab the money out of your hand if you gave them the chance to start up a business in the same way the returned illegals have been given to set up markets stalls and nail salons? My guess would be millions of them.

    Kay Tie,

    “I’d much rather go to my local restaurant and get served by a Polish immigrant than to fork over higher taxes, pay higher prices and put up with poorer service from unqualified indigenous workers.”

    Ah, so you like your Poles nice and servile! You’re so important that the only thing that matters to you is getting served, not who’s serving you! My, you’re one red hot libertarian momma!

    Pity that you seem just as much of a xenophilic bigot as John, and your comments about “unemployable illiterates” are just as ugly and just as mean-spirited as Helen’s.

    Tim adds: “Know how many would grab the money out of your hand if you gave them the chance to start up a business in the same way the returned illegals have been given to set up markets stalls and nail salons? My guess would be millions of them.”

    So let’s do it. No, I’m not joking. Let’s change the benefit system this way. I’m all for it! Benefit slaves or subsidised entrants into the market economy? Latter, please.

  15. Tim,

    “So let’s do it. No, I’m not joking. Let’s change the benefit system this way. I’m all for it! Benefit slaves or subsidised entrants into the market economy? Latter, please.”

    For once, we are in aboslute agreement. There would have to be some provision for those genuinely unable to work; without sounding like a Housing Benefit bore, entrants should be given a measure of rent relief until they’re on their feet; but this way would be a far more humane way of dealing with alleged ‘unemployment’ than the current system, the bureaucracy of which is firmly geared towards keeping people down.

    The real slavery is to Working Tax and Child Tax Credits; absurd pieces of rubbish designed to have the same effect as receiving a tax cut without having to cut tax – pure redistribution.

    Merry Christmas.

  16. @ Martin: the Mars Bar point was suggesting that it’s also possible to suggest that the benefits of immigration to the indigenous population are very /large/ – i.e. 1 Mars Bar per person per week is another way of saying £15 billion over 10 years.

    Not sure I can argue against the rest of your comment, since it doesn’t appear to contain an argument. Amused you think I’m a libertarian, though (and also amused that you think ‘xenophilic’ is an insult. I’m reasonably convinced that says more about you than it does me…)

  17. “@ Martin: the Mars Bar point was suggesting that it’s also possible to suggest that the benefits of immigration to the indigenous population are very /large/ – i.e. 1 Mars Bar per person per week is another way of saying £15 billion over 10 years. ”

    Perhaps; but it looks like a load of pish no matter how many times you read it.

    “Not sure I can argue against the rest of your comment”

    Good! That’s settled!

    Oh no! He’s still talking! –

    “since it doesn’t appear to contain an argument.”

    John, as I remarked on one of your posts above,

    ?

    “Amused you think I’m a libertarian”

    Well, I’m terribly sorry if I’ve stepped on your bunions, old boy, but it was you – yes, you; nobody else – who wrote,

    “As far as I’m concerned, a government exists:
    1) for the very broad libertarian functions of a state – an army, a court system, etc.”

    Having written that, if you’re now saying that you’re not a libertarian then the only other thing you can be is (GASP) a Trotskyite entryist! You’re saying you’re a libertarian one minute and denying it the next!

    Denounce yourself, John! Denounce yourself!

    (…and also amused that you think ‘xenophilic’ is an insult. I’m reasonably convinced that says more about you than it does me…)

    Er, John, have you actually got the impression that I give a fuck what you think? If that’s the case, then I’m terribly sorry to have misled you.

    Now, John, in polite society that is usually what is called ‘the last word’. Run along home, now, son; and Merry Christmas.

  18. John,

    Although I may indeed be a fucktard, I can assure you I am neither clueless nor illiterate – so let’s go and examine your pearls of wisdom again –

    ” for public goods that benefit me which wouldn’t be built under any plausible market system”

    Ah, so it’s all about you; and

    “to redistribute income from the fortunate to the less fortunate.”

    And you want me to pay for it.

    John, you sound like a true libertarian to me.

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