• Facebook
  • Facebook
  • Facebook
  • Facebook

Search This Blog

Visit our new website.

Wednesday, May 14, 2014

The gates are open but so far no flood

Official data from Office of National Statistics published this morning shows that the number of workers from Bulgaria and Romania have dropped from 144,000 to 140,000 since transitional controls were lifted for workers from the two countries on 1 January 2014. As we said all along, not quite the opening of the floodgates that some had predicted.

Nevertheless, this still represents an increase of 29,000 workers from Bulgaria and Romania year-on-year. And the quarterly numbers do not present a full picture on which to judge any longer-term change or pattern.

More broadly, the data shows that, while coming from a low base, EU employment has driven quite a lot of the recent increase in employment. In total, the number of  employed in the UK has increased by 741,000 year-on-year. Migrants from the Central and Eastern European 'EU 8' countries only account for 2.3% of total UK employment but, over the past year, workers from these countries have accounted for 15.5% of the increase in UK employment (see graph below).

It remains to be seen whether these figures will have any effect on the political debate about migration in the UK, particulalry from the EU. Annual migration (rather than employment) figures released later this month (potentially on European election day) are expected to show that EU migrants from the EU will outnumber migrants from non-EU countries for the first time - which has the potential to be politically explosive.


Simon said...

I doubt this will have much effect on UKIP's support. It's not the first time Farage has claimed the world was about to end and then promptly moved on when the catastrophe never materialised.

He spent the run up to the Lisbon Treaty claiming it would create a de facto superstate with an all-powerful President. When Van Rompuy turned out to be a mild mannered Belgian rather than a dictator, Farage simply turned it around and complained about his weakness - including the famous line about him having "all the charisma of a damp rag".

There was another example where Farage spent years warning us about an upcoming deadline over the use of supplementary indicators on non-metric products. He all but implied that when the deadline expired there would be people getting thrown into prison left, right and centre for daring to sell pints of beer. It was widely dismissed as nonsense at the time, yet when the day finally arrived and nothing happened UKIP tried to spin it as the EU "backtracking" and a victory for their campaigning.

Nobody remembers these issues anymore and given time nobody will remember the scaremongering about Romanians and Bulgarians - by then it will no doubt be some other looming catastrophe/country we supposedly have to be terrified about. Anti-immigration rhetoric has never relied on facts and it won't disappear simply on the basis of figures like the ones presented here.

Rik said...

1. The problem is when they are in it appears nearly impossible to get larger groups out again.
It is simply hard to see that a large influx of Rumenians & Co would not be highly explosive politically. Both for the EU as well as the traditional parties.
Therefor not much choice for the present government but to limit it as much as possible. If it would get massive and would cause irritations they will be blamed for it.

2. There has been a lot of negative PR towards these groups. I would not be surprised if that didnot reduce the inflow. Wilders is better than legislation one often gets the idea.
Impossible to measure and not something to 'advertise'.
However in Germany there are some lower level voices who see the recent inflow as a real problem. And in Germany the PR was different. More they are a social problem compared to 'you are not really welcome' in the UK. German press basically for national consumption, UK it got a lot 'Balkan' press.

3. Cameron is a bit in between a rock and a hard place. He simply cannot realistically at this stage completely ignore EU laws (signed up for by earlier governments). However he will get the blame if it runs out of control.

4. Likely the UK has seen a lot of Southern Europeans. Most at the bottom end of the labourmarket would be my guess.
In theory therefor with very similar problems. In practice however less of a problem. Still a problem but less problem per lbs immigrant. Visible poverty (poorly dressed, beggars and criminals) simply does a lot in this respect. One simply doesnot associate these things so much with Southeners. A lot of people do that however with Balkanites.

Rik said...

There is simply a problem/issue when a larger group within a society thinks that it is a problem. And it simply does so.

On a (unrealistic) 'budget' of 100k annually 30k registered workers is still an awful lot. Add the unregistered ones add the dependents and probably more than half of that budget will be 'used for these 2 countries.
Of which one can discuss if they really add value for the UK. I am very doubtful on that as most will be low income (read pay little taxes).
Furthermore these sort of groups account for nearly all the social issues with immigrants (whole discussion is about non or badly educated people from a culture that is rather different and where the standard of living is much lower (often leading to behaviour that causes these social tensions). And Rumenians and Bulgarians fit that bill.

So simply IP has an issue whether you like it or not.
There is simply a problem and one way or another this problem should be solved or you get with issues like this social tensions (and medium term new political parties). Easy way for a partial solution seems lnot letting negative added value immigrants in.

Imho it is fully clear that part of the problem is the fact that the UK labourmarket in that segment isnot working properly. And that will be another issue you will have to face of course. No really simple solutions here.
But not only IP is showing Ostrich behaviour on that, all parties do.

The whole EU discussion in the UK (and most other countries) is a huge mess. Full of empty promises and guarantees not met. The traditional parties have created an atmosphere of distrust and on that distrust parties like IP prosper. If previous UK governments had played it fair with its population and had created a proper sustainable platform for further EU integration this would nbever have happened.

jon livesey said...

You are missing the point, I am afraid. Whether a country can police its own borders is a matter of principle. Whether it experiences an influx of a given size is another.

Denis Cooper said...

Having seen the Tory MP Mark Reckless on TV saying that the Labour Force Survey is a completely unreliable indicator of the number of Romanians and Bulgarians working in the country, and if there had been just five more Romanians or Bulgarians in the panel, 80% of which was chosen last year, then their reported numbers would not have gone down over the first quarter of this year, I thought I'd check the original data if I could.

I've not yet been able to confirm what Mark Reckless said, but my eye was drawn to the note below the table on page 54 here:


"The estimates shown in this table relate to the number of people in employment and should not be used as a proxy for flows of foreign migrants into the UK."

Which of course is exactly what some politicians and the press have been doing.

Rollo said...

> Subject: Cameron and BBC Lies.
> You may have seen Cameron in Parliament saying that the 'influx of
> Romanians and Bulgarians' did not happen.
> This was trumpeted by the BBC on all outlets, for example:
> http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-politics-21523319
> But it is not true!
> On Newsnight last night there was an interview with the Conservative MP
> who, with Keith Vaz, met Romanian immigrants on 1st January.
> He said the statistics quoted are worthless.
> Why?
> Because they are a survey of Romanians & Bulgarians who were already in
> work in U.K. in 2013.
> It asked them if they were still in U.K. in work in 2014.
> Obviously, that was a number which could only fall!
> Lies, damned lies and Cameron's statements - loved by the BBC !
> Mike.

Anonymous said...

One reason is perhaps that entire villages are relocating to Germany as described in this article:


Rik said...

The calls Dave made in this dossier were all spot on.
Most of the discussion we see in the media about it by other (mainly but not only the pro-immigration camp) is simply nonsense.

1. Immigration is a medium to long term issue. Looking only at a 1 year period is simply moronic.
Basically you want yourself put in say 2050 and look back at this.
So you have answers on questionslike:
-how many;
-follow up effect (dependents);
-social problems (or not);
-social mobility.
Things like that.

2. However that is not possible one has to make the calls in advance.
Which is very complicated with issues like immigration (most predictions are simply wrong and often by a lot). Most predictions also look hihly biased (according to political preferences most of the time)

3. Political field:
-If it goes wrong Cameron gets the blame:
-If you have people in it is nearly impossible to get them out in large groups. Simply doesnot work nowhere.

4. From there Cameron could basically only make the calls he made:
-try to limit it;
This is a high risk group seen the social economic enviroment they come from. Better not bring them in therefor (if possible). Not much upside and an awful lot downside.
Numbers one has to look over longer period Europe is full of semi-dysfunctional groups that were not even 1/5th the size they are now when it became clear that it didnot work properly.

-within (but borderline) legal limits; Going against EU law is a difficult one (unless everybody does), certainly when you want to go for a reneg. Anyway at one point you will likely be called.
Do it properly (rule of law thing) change the rules longer term.

-go for structural legal (EU) change. See above.

-make them feel unwelcome. It simply appears that negative PR works often at least as good as legislation (as the execution thereof is often crap). Cameron did a great job here. Germany were focussing internally on their potential social issuse. The UK send a message you are not really welcome. Which simpoly gt trucks of media attention in the 2 countries.

Some things are definitely not a beautiful solution, but were simply the best within the given circumstances.

Fully agree with Jon, especially the moment semi or whole 3rd world equivalents could start immigration you need to be able to gard your own borders.

Nobody could realistically predict what would happen. The uncertainty of things is as big a problem as the immigration itself.
Therefor stating that you predicted a low inflow simply indicates a wrong decisionmodel for the moment the decision had to be made.
You seem to be using the logic of somebody a Jackpotwinner who had earlier the choice between food for his children (otherwise they would starve) or buying a lottery ticket.
Buying a lottery ticket was however always the wrong decision even if you later win the Jackpot.
You have to deal with uncertainty at the moment the call has to be made.

Simon said...

@Jon "You are missing the point, I am afraid. Whether a country can police its own borders is a matter of principle. Whether it experiences an influx of a given size is another."

I could go along with this, but if we do go down that road it should also be stated precisely why we have free movement of labour in the first place. It's based on the very clear principle that eliminating restrictions on the movement of workers and other individuals is mutually beneficial. There's a wide body of theory behind that - e.g. it makes businesses more competitive because they can hire the best staff available, it cuts down red tape for businesses and thereby reduces transaction costs, it stimulates growth, and so on.

Far too often this debate never mentions the principles which led to the creation of free movement in the first place. It's presented as a kind of odd act of lunacy that our government was compelled into signing up for against its wishes - which is complete nonsense.

If people have a different viewpoint and don't support free movement then that's their right, but we have to balance the two positions against each other in a reasonable manner. There are pros and cons to it which are completely lost when the debate becomes colonised by emotional rhetoric.