Thursday, 2 July 2009

More jobs for British workers, according to the Mail

5CC has posted on the latest foreign worker scare story, written by James Slack in the Mail. As he points out, this is a old favourite dragged out by the tabloids at regular intervals (although the figure has dropped from all jobs, to 85% to now 70%), and which he has proved to be rubbish on countless occasions.

But there are a couple of points I would like to add. First, the Mail's story British jobs for foreign workers: Experts reveal 70% of new jobs taken by migrants is based on OECD's International Migration Outlook 2009. The press release to accompany the report has the title: Keep doors open to migrant workers to meet long-term labour needs, says OECD. This recommendation doesn't appear anywhere in Slack's article. Nor does their statement that: 'In the United Kingdom and Ireland migration from the new EU member countries has declined by more than half'. How did he forget to mention those points?

Secondly, this story appeared on 1 July. But the Mail had done very brief article on foreign-born workers only a couple of days before, on 29 June. Headlined 'UK jobs going to foreign workers' it was inspired by (ahem) Balanced Migration, the Mail's second favourite migration organisation.

Here's the first line of the story:

The vast majority of private sector jobs created under Labour have been taken by workers born abroad, offical figures show.

At which point you wonder - since when did the 'foreign worker' story get split between public and private sector?

And the answer: when the private sector figures says what you want better than the total figures.

The Balanced Migration press release is: All private sector jobs created under Labour have gone to foreign workers: “British jobs for foreign workers” - the last part of that appearing in the headline of the Mail's 1 July story (churnalism, much?). Notice how it is 'all private sector jobs' - which becomes 'nearly all' later in the piece.

But even that is a distortion to get the right story - it turns out it's actually only private sector jobs of people under retirement age.

The 'research note' admits:

The picture looks slightly different in respect of all working people over the age of 16 because a significant number of UK born people have stayed on after the official retirement age. These figures show that 1.1 million new jobs have been created in the public sector of which 28% went to non-UK born workers. In the private sector there were 1.8 million new jobs but 85% went to non-UK born workers.

So even if you accept this stupid numbers game (and 5cc shows you shouldn't - extra people in employment is not 'new jobs', foreign might not mean foreign and there are 'almost 4 million immigrants are in work in the UK, compared to almost 26 million UK born people'), Balanced Migration have put an inflammatory headline on a statement that clearly isn't supported by the facts. 85% is not 'all'.

But why this split between the public and private sectors anyway? Simple: the overall figure for all jobs would be much lower than 'all' or even 85% - it works out about 63%/37% based on these figures. Figures which, they admit, 'are estimates based on survey respondents’ views about the organisation for which they work'.

Then again, if Balanced Migration must split it, why not say '72% of public sector jobs gone to British born workers'?

So that was the flawed paper on which the Mail's 29 June story was based. Except, it didn't quite get the figures right because it mixed up the totals for the private and public sectors (even Mail people who agree can't get to grips with Balanced Migration's weird breakdown)

So the Mail claimed:
15% of 1.1 million private sector jobs went to British born people, and
72% of 1.8 million public sector jobs (which it mentioned only in the last paragraph).

Whereas Balanced Migration claimed:
15% of 1.8 million private sector jobs went to British born people, and
72% of 1.1 million public sector jobs.

So when the Mail journos aren't copying and pasting, they're getting it wrong. Does it matter? Well, ironically, yes. Because going on the Mail's statistics, they show that of the 2.9 million 'new jobs', 1,461,000 went to British born people (50.4%), and 1,439,000 to foreign born (49.6%).

Oops. No wonder they wanted Slack to get back on track two days later with a '70% of jobs go to foreigners' story.

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