Back in November, the Office for National Statistics released its latest labour market statistics showing, among other things, the cumulative change in employment levels since the 2010 General Election broken down into those born in the UK and those born elsewhere. I had a chance to go through them over Christmas and The Spectator usefully reproduced the data in graphic form:
In the first three years of this Government, our economy has created over a million jobs. Not all of them are full-time and some of them are low paid, but nonetheless at a time when many other European economies are struggling this is a cause for celebration.
Regular readers will know that I take a keen interest in immigration policy and get very frustrated by the sterile “immigration is good/all immigration is bad” debate we tend to have. My own view is that we need a more nuanced debate. Immigration can be good for the country, but it depends both on how many people we allow to settle here each year and who we let in – highly-skilled migrants who will fill gaps in the labour market and create jobs for others we should welcome with open arms; low-skilled migrants who will compete with our unemployed for jobs are much less beneficial.
Under the last Government, much of the growth in employment was among those born outside the UK. There were several factors behind this – Labour’s policy of allowing hundreds of thousands of people to come here every year, a welfare system that trapped some on benefits and allowed others to live permanently on benefits and a school system that turned out young people who lacked the skillks and attitudes employers want.
What the graph above shows is that in 2013 the Government’s immigration, welfare and schools reforms began to have an effect with the growth in employment among those born in the UK outstripping that amongst those born elsewhere. That will be very welcome news to my constituents who are concerned about these issues.