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London: city of migrant workers

6 March 20170 comments

Migrants working in London each contribute £46,000 (or $A74,000) to the UK capital’s economy every year and collectively add £83 billion (or $A134 billion) to the city’s bottom line annually, according to a new report.

The research, by the London First lobby organisation and PwC consultancy, aims to help businesses analyse the impact of migration on their staffing and supply chains ahead of Britain’s departure from the EU.

It found that EU migrants make up 13 per cent of the capital’s workforce, compared to 25 per cent who come from outside Europe. Every 10 migrant workers support an additional four jobs in the wider economy, the report said.

Chief executive of London First Jasmine Whitbread said migrants helped keep London running.

“As the government debates what the UK’s post-Brexit immigration policy should be, it’s critical we’re informed by the facts,” she said.

“Global migration is an important part of London’s ongoing success, many parts of our economy would struggle without it. Today’s report is a significant step forwards in setting out the facts and providing the clearest picture to date of the people living and working in London,” Ms Whitbread said.

“Let’s face facts: migrants are keeping London running, they are part of the London success story,” she said.

“One of the myths is that they are taking jobs from UK-born citizens and this study shows that is simply not the case, because the number of UK-born citizens without jobs has actually reduced while the number of migrants has grown.”

The study, titled ‘Facing Facts: the impact of migrants on London, its workforce and economy’ is the first of its kind and draws on a comprehensive range of information, including detailed labour force survey data.

The report shows how London’s total workforce has grown from 4.3 million people in 2005 to just under 5.2 million, made up of people from around the UK, the EU and the rest of the world.

It found:
• 3.2m of London’s total workforce were born in the UK (most of London’s workforce at just over 60 per cent)
• 682,300 workers were born in the EU (13 per cent of London’s total workforce). This has more than doubled over the past ten years, from 326,700 in 2005
• 1.3m workers were born elsewhere in the world (25 per cent of London’s total workforce), up from 1 million in 2005

The report says London’s growing workforce is significantly contributing to economic growth and helping to create more jobs in the capital.

The calculation of new jobs created by migration is underpinned by an overall increase in the number of people working in London – 85,400 more people on average each year, equivalent to an average annual increase of 2.3 per cent.

The number of UK-born Londoners of working age who are not in work – either unemployed, studying, looking after dependants or unable to work – is falling, from just over 608,000 people in 2005 to 537,400 by 2015.

The report also found London tends to attract skilled workers.

Nearly 60 per cent of people from original EU countries are in managerial and professional roles in London.

There was a marked difference when compared to workers from countries that joined the EU after 2004, with one in five workers based in London in managerial and professional roles, one in seven n supervisory and intermediate roles, but most are either self-employed or working for a small business (32 per cent) or are in semi-routine or routine work (31 per cent).

One reason for this is the high proportion of EU born people working in the construction industry.

Builders, developers, contractors and engineers employ nearly 300,000 people in London, around half of whom were born in the UK, 30 per cent were born in the EU and 20 per cent were born in the rest of the world.

Demand for construction workers looks set to grow as London builds more homes and completes Crossrail, the extension of the Northern Line and the Tideway Tunnel alongside other infrastructure projects.

Laurie Nowell
AMES Australia Senior Journalist