Page last updated at 22:28 GMT, Thursday, 4 January 2007

Migrants have 'little jobs impact'

Migrant workers picking celery
Workers from accession countries have 'improved' the labour market

There is "little evidence" that migrants have made it harder for UK workers to get jobs or pull down wages, says a report for the Bank of England.

The paper dismissed the idea that recent arrivals come to claim benefits.

The 0.8% unemployment rise over the past 18 months has little connection with the arrival of some 500,000 Polish and ex-Soviet bloc workers, it said.

The Home Office has said migrants have helped economic growth in the UK, but some pressure groups disagreed.

Improvement

The paper, written by a member of the Bank's interest rate-setting committee, David Blanchflower, and two of its economic advisers, also highlighted that population growth had been "extremely low" in comparison with other nations in the past three decades.

The population increase in the UK has been 7% in that time, in sharp contrast with 42% in the US, 25% in Spain and 18% in France.

However, since 1999 the UK population has grown by 3.2%.

Eight accession nations - Poland, Hungary, Slovakia, Slovenia, Latvia, Lithuania, Estonia and the Czech Republic - joined the EU in 2004.

"The entry of recent A8 [accession] migrants appears to have improved the workings of the labour market, reduced wage and inflationary pressures."

There was little or no evidence to suggest that the new [A8] migrants have come to the UK to claim or receive benefits; they have come to work
David Blanchflower report for the Bank of England

They have also lowered the "natural rate of unemployment," by making the workforce more adaptable and mobile.

Such workers have contributed to keeping inflation in check by consuming less than they produce.

"There was little or no evidence to suggest that the new [A8] migrants have come to the UK to claim or receive benefits; they have come to work."

Certain groups argue that migrants come to the UK to use to welfare system.

The paper comes after pressure group Migrationwatch UK questioned the benefit of migrants by saying their economic benefit was equal to 4p a week for each person in Britain.

The report follows Romania and Bulgaria's recent entrance to the EU - though their citizens will only have limited access to UK jobs.

The headline of this report and the attribution of the pull-out quote in this story were amended in May 2008. This report has also been the subject of a finding by the BBC Trust's Editorial Standards Committee (see link on the right-hand side of the story).

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