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28 August 2006

  • Britain is enriched by its Poles of growth
  • The newcomers’ gain is not the British workers’ loss.

    What seems to be happening is consistent with studies carried out in America, where most work on the impact of immigration has been done. Extra labour enables companies, and even whole sectors, to expand, with output patterns changing in response to available skills.

    If Britain were still militantly unionised, the newcomers would have been hard to absorb, but in a relatively liberal open-market economy, they are an asset.

    So long as productivity does not suffer — and, apart from in the ballooning public sector, there is no sign of that — more workers mean more economic activity, higher tax revenues and, as the Bank of England’s Monetary Policy Committee acknowledged this month, a higher potential rate of growth.

    What would have happened if we, like France, had tried to keep these migrant workers out after Accession Day? Many would have arrived anyway, and they would have done so entirely legally, because anyone with an EU passport can travel anywhere in the EU for stays of up to three months. Kick them out, and they can come straight back. The difference is that they would have worked illegally, as thousands are now doing on the Continent.

    Take a look at that chart again. Before AD, there were already 89,000 working-age nationals from the A8 in the UK, but their recorded employment rate was only 57 per cent. After AD, the figure soars, in line with their access to the formal labour market.

    It is in the black economy, where anything goes, that immigration is most likely to undercut wages and to squeeze the unskilled out of jobs.

    We would do better to welcome the “Polish plumber” who so frightens the French. These newcomers are without question here to work; 97 per cent are in full-time, tax-paying jobs. They are not ghosts in the machine, but living souls who not only work, but consume, expanding the domestic market.

    Because 82 per cent are under 34 and largely single, their demands on health services and school places are minimal, though that may change. Crammed into bedsits, they are having the time of their lives.

    And so, thanks to their cheerful presence, are we Brits.

    • Endlich erklärt jemand die Auswirkungen der zugewanderten Arbeitskräfte im offenen Markt, den wir ja leider in Deutschland nicht haben.
    • Die Diskussion um Mindestlöhne und Absicherung von Arbeitsplätzen erscheint in neuem Licht.

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