Below are selected quotes from the new report, published on 27 March 2018 by the independent Migration Advisory Committee, entitled: ‘EEA-workers in the UK labour market: Interim Update’.
GDP Per Head & Productivity
‘The MAC view is that the UK has a well-known and long-standing productivity problem, lagging behind similar countries and a great deal of heterogeneity in productivity within sectors. (Par. 1.111, page 44).
‘Lower migration… would not necessarily mean lower growth in output per head.’ (Par. 34, page 12).
‘There is little evidence that, over long periods of time, countries that have had higher rates of labour force growth have had higher rates of growth of output per head.’ (Par. 34, page 12).
‘Firms that can offer the best terms and conditions are likely to be those with the highest productivity. Firms with lower productivity who can only afford lower wages will struggle to recruit and retain workers; this understandably is not a prospect viewed favourably by those employers but it is a sign of a healthy economy.’ (Par. 18, page 9).
‘[Employers’ views] need to be set in the context of long-standing poor UK productivity performance compared to similar countries… There is scope to raise productivity by more widespread adoption of current best practice.’ (Par. 31, page 12).
‘Employers denied that low wages were part of the image problem but when, for example, 95% of jobs in hospitality pay below average hourly earnings, we were not always convinced by this argument.’ (Par. 14, page 9).
‘When comparing, as best we can, the pay of similar workers (i.e. same age, region, industry and occupation)… workers from the old member states seem to be paid much the same as an equivalent UK-born worker but new member state workers are paid less, 4% less in low-skilled jobs.’ (Par. 22, page 10).
‘[Employers’ suggestion that they hire EEA workers because they are higher quality or are prepared to do work that British workers are not] does amount to saying that it is sometimes possible to hire a given quality of worker for lower wages if they are an EEA migrant than if they are UK-born.’ (Par. 19, page 9).
‘Some employers do not feel they could improve the supply of UK-born workers by offering higher wages, that wages are irrelevant to the ability to recruit and retain. The MAC does not think this is credible. Individual employers would almost always be able to recruit resident workers if they paid wages sufficiently above the going rate. This applies even if there are skills shortages at the national level – an individual employer should always be able to fill the job if a sufficiently high wage is offered.’ (Par. 25, page 10) .
‘Previous MAC reports have concluded that migrants had little or no impact on average, but increased wages at the top of the UK wage distribution and slightly lowered wages at the bottom end of the distribution.’ (Par. 23, page 10).
Would more restrictive immigration policies lead to long-term skills shortages?
‘Many responses argued that a more restrictive migration policy would lead to large numbers of unfilled vacancies. The MAC view is that this is unlikely in anything other than the short-term.’ (Par. 32, page 12).
‘Among the reasons given by employers for why an EEA migrant might be the best candidate for a job, were: Necessary skills are scarce among the UK-born workforce.’ (Par. 6, page 8).
‘Training UK-born workers to fill skills shortages may be a strategy in the longer term… [but] it is unlikely that solving skills shortages can be left to individual employers. Support from government is needed.’
Impact on wider society
‘The views of business are important but they should not be the only analysis to be considered.’ (Par 27, page 11).
‘What is best for an individual employer is not necessarily best for the welfare of the resident population which is the criterion the MAC uses when evaluating migration policy.’ (Par. 45, page 14).