Will unemployment be reduced if immigration is slowed down?

Rob Burgess of Business Spectator argued that skilled immigration will help reduce unemployment  The Burgess article starts with:

Monash demographer Bob Birrell led the charge against immigration, arguing in the Fairfax press that “… the number of overseas-born persons aged 15 plus in Australia, who arrived since the beginning of 2011, was around 709,000. Most of these people are job hungry.

“According to the Australian Bureau of Statistics Labour Force Survey, 380,000 of these recent arrivals were employed as of May 2014. Over the same three years, the net growth in jobs in Australia is estimated by the ABS to have been only 400,000.

However, the link between migration and jobless numbers is far more complex than this.  Burgess says that the

logical disconnect is found when one considers what kinds of job openings exist, where they are located and the willingness of ‘pre-2011’ Australians (to use Birrell’s distinction) to take them.

In this context, Angela Chan, national president of the Migration Institute of Australia says that:

Employers in regional and remote Australia find it extremely difficult to fill positions with workers who have families, homes and lives in our capital cities – cities that house the unusually high figure of 85 per cent of our population.

Burges comments that

the explanation Chan gives gels exactly with stories many regionally-based MPs have told this columnist over the years – it is sometimes easier to employ Korean workers or recently arrived refugees in Alice Springs hospitality jobs than Australians. Or to employ Iraqis to pick fruit in Shepparton, for instance.

Perhaps even more important is the difficulty of getting medical staff, accountants, engineers or other skilled workers to regional Australia.   Without enough of these people it can be difficult for businesses to attract and keep the people they need to keep the business going.

The Burgess article concentrated on the benefits Tasmania and regional parts of Australia.  An obvious question is how many of the immigrants mentioned got jobs in the big city and how many of these filled jobs that could have been done by unemployed Australians or Australians who could have been promoted into the job?  It is also worth asking to what extent immigration is necessary because Australian business finds it easier to import experienced workers rather than take the long term effort required to train and develop Australians?

In the past it has been argued that immigration is beneficial because the growing population stimulates the economy, and, in particular, stimulates house building.

We need to have a conversation about both the long and short term immigration rates

8 thoughts on “Will unemployment be reduced if immigration is slowed down?”

  1. … the number of overseas-born persons aged 15 plus in Australia, who arrived since the beginning of 2011, was around 709,000. Most of these people are job hungry.

    “According to the Australian Bureau of Statistics Labour Force Survey, 380,000 of these recent arrivals were employed as of May 2014.

    So of the 709,000 migrants that arrived , 329,000 are on the dole ?
    Open borders + welfare state = financial catastrophe for all.
    I heard a proposal for auctioning immigration places with a contract ( aside from humanitarian intake ) that was reasonable with a ” send back clause ” and a longer period of non-citizenship, yet equal rights.

    Can’t remember the details so I’ll try to find it.

  2. Jumpy: Keep in mind that most immigrants can’t get the dole for a number of years. (See for example, what happens to Kiwi immigrants Also keep in mind that many of the over 15 immigrants will be spouses who cannot get welfare because of their partners incomeor kids who stay in education.
    In addition many immigrants go into a period of full time English education when they first arrive – logical if they are coming to fill skill gaps in Aus.
    Look forward to seeing what you can find.

  3. Ever since migration was outsourced/privatized it has been nothing but a colossal money-making racket …. and we citizens and taxpayers have had to pay the completely unnecessary social and economic costs.

    Chan is partially right about willing workers not leaving the big cities – but says nothing whatsoever about the correctable causes of labour immobility, or should we call that labour paralysis?

    (1). Centrelink’s crazy punishments of families that try to escape urban poverty by moving to rural and regional towns. Forget the shock-jocks’ stereotype of hateful dole-bludgers: typically, these are, instead, retrenched experienced workers willing to try a completely new job if they are given a chance.

    (2). Skilled workers who have a savings nest-egg and who rent their dwelling can escape, eventually, to find new jobs elsewhere. Not so those who are locked into mortgages for bloated mansions ( as I have said before, just try borrowing money for a modest house sufficient for the borrowers’ actual needs). Home Finance profitability and Labour Mobility play a zero-sum game.

    (3). So long as we are stupid enough to give perverse rewards to Fussy Employers and to Lazy Employers – yet allow those who select their employees on demonstrable skills (or on a willingness to learn) to be hindered and put at marked disadvantage, we will have active and very costly discrimination against Australian citizens and permanent residents.

    (4). The so-called qualifications of many, perhaps most, 457 and other migration racket visas, have recently been exposed as dodgy (hardly news; the dodgy or downright false qualifications of many migrants was well known back in the ‘nineties). Since Australian citizens and permanent residents with genuine qualifications and experience cannot compete in such a badly distorted labour market, they cannot afford to leave the jobs they have. This in itself is a serious impediment to labour mobility.

    All is not lost. We can avert social disruption and further serious economic losses by:
    (a). Re-nationalizing migration.
    (b). Giving preference to the families of genuine refugees – and abolishing “business migration”..
    (c) Abolishing migration agents – and setting up police task forces to go right through the entire migration agent system.
    (d). Abolishing the 417 and 457 visa rackets.
    (e). Abolishing all the tax handouts to Fussy Employers.
    (f). Sacking the entire upper echelon of Centrelink and replacing them with competent people who are committed to improving labour mobility.
    (g). Sacking everyone in the anti-discrimination field. Why are we rewarding laziness?
    (h). Derailing the home mortgage gravy train by offering affordable modest housing, at costs the home finance sector cannot afford to match, to workers who wish to relocate.

  4. Graham: I hope you feel better after getting all that off your chest.

    However, to be serious, I think most of the issues you have raised need serious discussion. One of the things you missed was the NZ immigration issue that I linked to in my reply to Jumpy. Immigration from NZ is pumping a lot of unskilled migrants into the system that will compete with entry level Australian job seekers.

    In terms of getting professionals to move to regional Australia part of the problem is the growth of two career families. Not a real problem if the partner is a teacher or nurse but a real problem if the partner follows many other professions.

  5. Yes, John D. 🙂
    though I neglected to include (i) and (j) concerning Aborigines having the say on all immigration applications (after more than 200 years of trying it without their input, why not? They couldn’t do worse)

    Still mulling over the long-term effects of an unskilled labour influx from NZ.

  6. Yep. There was no unemployment in Australia before those illegal boat people from the UK started coming to Aus.
    BTW: Australian wages growth has dropped to the point where wage growth is below inflation A decline in real customer purchasing power is going to slow economic growth and add to unemployment.

    Australian wages are failing to keep pace with inflation after official figures revealed a decline in real terms for the second quarter in a row.

    Wages growth remains at record lows with the quarterly wage price index from the Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS) rising just 0.6 per cent in the June quarter in seasonally adjusted terms.

    On an annualised basis, wages grew at 2.6 per cent – the same as the previous quarter – which is well below the inflation rate of 3 per cent

  7. I regularly check out the AIG Performance Indices and for a very long time wages and input costs have risen yet selling price has fallen.
    In all 3 sectors.
    Any wonder bankruptcies and sackings are also rising.
    Thank jeebus the Gillard ” There was NO increase in activity under the government I led ” years are behind us.
    That’s right, not even 1 single increase from a previous month. Continuous, unrelenting contraction.
    Yet wages grew.
    Leads me to think the inflation is not caused by domestic businesses.

  8. In the mean time, youth underemployment is growing

    Research from the Brotherhood of St Laurence welfare group has found more than 300,000 young Australians have casual or part-time jobs but want either more work or full-time positions.

    The brotherhood’s Tony Nicholson said that figure combined with those who are officially unemployed adds up to more than 500,000 young people.

    “If you add the unemployed to those who are under-employed, you find that about 580,000 young people are really struggling to get a foothold in the world of work,” he told AM.

    Combined with the unemployment rates of around 14 per cent, Mr Nicholson says it is a double blow for young Australians.

    “Over half of the jobs that young people are getting are casual in nature,” he said.

Comments are closed.