In Defence of Liberty

Driven by data; ridden with liberty.

Statistics and Lampposts XXVI: Net Employment

The headline in The Sun claims [1]:

Brits just not fair: 4 in 5 British jobs went to foreign nationals last year as number of EU workers doubles.

Behind the headline

In the latest round of UK labour market statistics, the Office for National Statistics reported on employment levels by country of birth and by nationality [2]. These reports are made every three months [3].

Between January to March 2015 and a year later, the number of UK-born people in employment increased by 95,000, with the central estimate at 26.249m.

Considering the same time frame for people in work born outside of the UK, that level grew by 330,000. The employment level for non-UK born workers is 5.239m, for January to March 2015.

For clarity, the ONS series IDs for these two employment measures are JF6F and JF6G, respectively.

This can also be broken by nationality. Between the three months to March 2015 and January to March 2016, the number of UK nationals in employment increased by 186,000 to 28.153m.

Over the same period, the employment level of non-UK nationals went up by 228,000, reaching 3.337m. Similarly, the ONS series IDs for these two measures are JF6H and JF6I.

It should be noted that there are people who do not state their nationality or country of birth in the Labour Force Survey, so the total employment level is not equal to the sum of UK and non-UK workers.

People, not jobs

These figures do not show the distribution of new jobs between UK and non-UK people, either by nationality or by country of birth, but the net changes in employment for those categories.

As the ONS states:

The estimates of employment by both nationality and country of birth relate to the number of people in employment rather than the number of jobs. Changes in the series therefore show net changes in the number of people in employment, not the proportion of new jobs that have been filled by UK and non-UK workers. These estimates should not be used as a proxy for flows of foreign migrants into the UK.

This understanding has also been reiterated by the UK Statistics Authority [4]:

The following distinctions should not be ignored:

i. The official statistics provide estimates of net change in the number of people in employment. This is not the same as the number of people who move into employment; rather, it is the difference ebtween flows of people into employment (e.g. from unemployment, education, ill health, care for dependents, retirement, or from living in another country) and the flows of people out of employment (e.g. to unemployment, education, ill health, care for dependents, retirement or to move to another country).

ii. The number of people in employment and the number of jobs in the economy are not the same. One person may have more than one job, and some jobs may be shared by more than one person.

From the available official statistics, it is therefore not possible to estimate the number of new jobs, nor the number of new jobs that are filled by UK nationals, nor the number of new jobs that are filled by non-UK nationals.

statistics-and-lampposts-xxvi-net-changes-in-employment.PNG

It is not the number of ‘new jobs’, but the net effect of employment flows. (Source: UKSA)

As Buzzfeed recognises [5], this story is on a loop, repeating every three months when these statistics are published.

References

[1] The Sun, 2016. Brits just not fair: 4 in 5 British jobs went to foreign nationals last year as number of EU workers doubles. Available from: http://www.thesun.co.uk/sol/homepage/news/politics/7158353/Staggering-figures-reveal-EU-nationals-have-taken-almost-55-of-jobs-in-Britain-over-the-past-year.html [Accessed: 23rd May 2016]

[2] Masters, A., 2016. UK Labour Market Statistics, May 2016. In Defence of Liberty. Available from: https://anthonymasters.wordpress.com/2016/05/19/uk-labour-market-statistics-may-2016/ [Accessed: 23rd May 2016]

[3] ONS, 2016. UK Labour Market Statistics: May 2016. Available from: http://www.ons.gov.uk/employmentandlabourmarket/peopleinwork/employmentandemployeetypes/bulletins/uklabourmarket/may2016 [Accessed: 23rd May 2016]

[4] UKSA, 2016. Letter from Sir Andrew Dilnot to Jonathan Portes 18/08/2014. Available from: https://www.statisticsauthority.gov.uk/archive/reports—correspondence/correspondence/letter-from-sir-andrew-dilnot-to-jonathan-portes-18082014.pdf [Accessed: 23rd May 2016]

[5] Nardelli, A., 2016. Some Newspapers Still Can’t Tell The Difference Between Employment and New Jobs. BuzzFeed. Available from: https://www.buzzfeed.com/albertonardelli/never-ending-confusion [Accessed: 23rd May 2016]

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One comment on “Statistics and Lampposts XXVI: Net Employment

  1. Bill
    June 1, 2016

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This entry was posted on May 25, 2016 by in Statistics and tagged , , .
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