What happened to the foreign job theives?

A classic, I think you'd agree
I used to get quite worked up about how the papers covered employment statistics. Whatever they were, we'd get made up headlines about how migrants had stolen ALL the jobs splashed across the front pages. Yesterday, some new employment figures were published and I got all nostalgic, so I looked to the tabloids to see if they were still pulling the same trick.

Turns out all sorts of things have been happening in the tabloid 'foreign worker scare story' petri dish while I've been away. I feel like a scientist who comes across a forgotten specimen at the back of a cupboard to find it's...mutated.

Surprisingly, there haven't been any shouty headlines about how foreigners have taken ALL the new jobs following the most recent figures. That's because the era of migrants taking all the jobs is over. Didn't you know?

Well it's over in the Mail anyway. In February there were fanfares for the government as the paper reported 'At last, most new jobs are filled by British workers thanks to stricter immigration policies'. At last! And all thanks to the policy covered the year before in 'Finally, British workers come first: Jobs for migrants slashed by half in visa clampdown'. Finally!

Of course, in the coverage of the most recent figures the paper is aghast at the number of jobs going to foreigners, but 'Number of people in work reaches record high of 29.7million but a third of new jobs go to foreign nationals' is at least clear that it's only a third of the jobs being filched these days.

Over at the Express though, things are different. The paper doesn't seem to have mentioned the number of migrants getting jobs in its coverage.

Three weeks ago though, long after the Mail declared that British workers were getting most new jobs, cack crack columnist Leo McKinstry informed us in 'Mass immigration is plunging our nation into crisis'* that:
It is ridiculous that when unemployment stands at almost 2.5 million more than half of all new jobs still go to foreigners.
Wait a minute? Doesn't he know it's the dawn of a new age and most new jobs go to British born people now? Maybe not. In June, in 'Male migrants enjoy higher levels of employment than men born in Britain', the Express told us:
An estimated 225,000 people among the 423,000 who found work in the last year were not born in the UK, showed data released by the Office for National Statistics.
Are migrants taking most new jobs or a third of them? Which paper is right? The answer is both. And neither.

In the Mail's triumphant piece from February, the paper used the same figures it always used to for its scare stories, but focusing on comparing stats from October to December 2012 with those from the same period in 2011. Most people added to the workforce in that period really were born in the UK.

So how is the Express right too? The piece from June looked at the same figures as the Mail did, but compared stats from January to March 2013 with the ones from the same period in 2012 - the next three month period on from the Mail's figures. The proportion of people from outside the UK in that period was much higher. Which means the figure has dropped again so the Mail can get its 'one third' number and the Express has just decided not to report it, right?

Uh, no.

In it's most recent coverage, the Mail seems to have ditched its traditional method for talking about foreigners taking jobs. If the paper had used the usual methods comparing the latest quarter's figures with last year they'd have got the same proportion that allowed Steve Doughty to yell 'Foreigners take two out of three new jobs as statistics reveal nearly 200,000 vacancies were filled by those born overseas' back in January 2011. In fact even the total number is higher, at 204,000.

Instead of looking at the same stats, the paper has switched from measuring the rise in the number of people in the workforce born outside the UK to measuring foreign citizens. But this number has always been lower.

Back in the day, the Mail had a different narrative to push. We needed to be scared about the number of foreigners Labour had let in to ruin the country then. Now, it has to tell us that the tories are great and are saving us from the worst of the swarthy hordes. Switching the measure makes that possible.

The Express, however, hasn't changed so much. Since its Political Editor announced he'd be standing for election as a UKIP MEP, the paper has no reason to prop up the coalition where it can be outflanked on the right, so it'll carry on telling us mass migration is going to bring on the zombie apocalypse.

One thing that neither paper has done this time, which used to be a fun staple, is pick another arbitrary time period to measure. It's one way the papers could claim migrants had taken ALL the new jobs.

What if we compare the current quarter with the previous one? We'd see that the total number of people in had risen by 112,000 - while the number of those born overseas has risen by 136,000. Whoah! That's over 100%! Back in 2007 when the Express made a similar calculation that showed foreigners took more new jobs that were actually available, it led to a front page headline. Now, nothing.

(Of course, that might be because the PCC slapped them on the wrist and made them take the story down from their website, but they used the same method to calculate their scare stories ever since).

Measuring how many new jobs had been stolen by foreigners since Labour came to power was another favourite. So, what happens if we look at what has happened since the last election?  Comparing July to September 2010 with the most recent figures shows that the number of people in work overall has risen by 426,000, while the number of people born outside the UK has risen by * pffft! * SHIT! 2,256,000! That's, that's over 500% of new jobs that have been snatched by foreigners!

Of course, no they haven't. These figures are just as crap as they always were. It's just interesting to see the tabloids not bothering with them any more.

This could be because they have a new target now. The Romanians and Bulgarians. Dun-dun-durrrn! Today the Express yelped 'Number of Romanian and Bulgarian workers in Britain soars 36 per cent', while the Mail squeals '100 Romanians and Bulgarians take a job in Britain every day, official figures show'.

If you put it another way, you could say that the percentage of Romanian and Bulgarian nationals in the workforce has risen from 0.31% to 0.42% but that doesn't make as scary a headline.

Nice to see the're still up to some tricks, I guess.

*This is just four days after he told us 'Mass immigration is destroying the fabric of society'. That's what I hate about McKinstry. Too timid to tell us what he really thinks about immigration.


Jake said...

I've got £20 here says any Mail or Express employee whose child actually took the kind of jobs the scary new ethnic group of the week were allegedly stealing would be deeply ashamed and embarrassed and wonder how they'd gone so horribly wrong.

Anonymous said...

typo thieves (not thieves)