Socialist Worker

Is it 'foreign workers' who are taking all the jobs?

by Sadie Robinson
Issue No. 2261

“FOREIGN WORKERS GET 3 IN 4 NEW JOBS,” screamed a Daily Mail front page last week.

It was referring to the latest labour market statistics bulletin released by the Office for National Statistics (ONS).

But there’s no evidence for the Mail’s headline. It has distorted the statistics for its own racist agenda.

And this distortion is so common that the ONS even added a warning about it.

It said, “The estimates relate to the number of people in employment rather than the number of jobs.

“These statistics have sometimes been incorrectly interpreted as indicating the proportion of new jobs that are taken by foreign migrants.”

So the statistics have nothing to do with “new” jobs. They measure people, not jobs—and people could have more than one job or they could jobshare.

The figures show that 25.09 million UK-born people were working—a rise of 77,000 in a year.

In contrast, 4.04 million non-UK born people were in work—a rise of 334,000.

This led the Mail to rage about the number of “foreign” workers in Britain. But some 95,000 of these are in fact British citizens.


And the Mail didn’t mention statistics that don’t support its anti‑migrant stance.

UK-born people aged 16–64 have the highest employment rate. It stands at 71 percent. The rate for non-UK born people is 67.3 percent, while for UK nationals it is 70.7 percent.

The Mail is desperately scrabbling around to divert anger towards migrant workers. But what the statistics really show is that high numbers of workers, whatever their background, can’t find work.

And they say nothing about the kind of jobs those who do find work end up in.

One Channel 4 documentary last year described migrant domestic workers in Britain as “modern day slaves”.

It highlighted the appalling abuse migrant workers experienced. Many earned just £50 a week for working 20-hour days.

Dividing us into migrant and non-migrant workers will weaken the fight to stop the Tory assault. We can’t let them get away with it.

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Tue 19 Jul 2011, 17:25 BST
Issue No. 2261
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