A million jobs taken by non-EU workers as official figures lay bare the scale of foreign labour
By Steve Doughty Last updated at 8:13 AM on 06th March 2009
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released statistics showing a million workers from outside the EU have taken jobs in Britain since Labour came to power
A million workers from outside the EU have taken jobs in Britain since Labour came to power, according to official analysis.
Although they have no automatic right to work in this country, they have filled almost half of all the jobs created since 1997.
The scale of employment among non-EU migrants was revealed to MPs by the Office for National Statistics.
Gordon Brown, who earlier this year pledged 'British jobs for British workers', has faced difficulties in recent months with growing resentment over jobs going to competitors from EU countries.
But the latest breakdown shows that since 1997 workers from outside Europe have taken jobs at nearly double the rate of EU workers – including Poles and other Eastern Europeans given the right to work in Britain in 2004.
The figures were published by Karen Dunnell, the National Statistician and ONS chief whose determination to make the latest information on immigration and employment available has brought a wave of criticism from ministers.
They show that between December 1997 and last year the number of jobs held by workers born outside the country went up by 1,759,000, of which 1,084,000 were filled by people born outside Europe.
The increase means that of 3.7million migrants aged 16 to 65, almost 2.5million are from outside the EU.
Jobs taken by those from outside the EU outnumber those filled by British-born people by five to two since 1997, the figures show.
Of nearly 2.2million new jobs, 49 per cent were taken by people born outside Europe while only 19 per cent went to British-born employees.
Overall, four out of five new jobs went to workers born abroad and only 425,000 have been filled by British-born workers.
Just 18 months ago, ministers maintained the number of jobs taken by foreigners since 1997 was as low as 800,000.
Sir Andrew Green of the Migrationwatch think-tank said: 'The statistics are catching up with the spin. 'The Government could certainly have controlled the number of non-EU workers but they have done the opposite.'
Workers from the EU, except Romania and Bulgaria, have full work rights. Those from Eastern European countries that joined the EU in 2004 are asked to join the Home Office's worker registration scheme.
But workers from outside the EU need work permits and 129,700 were issued in 2007, rising to 151,635 last year.
Meanwhile, a new points-based system is meant to limit numbers from outside the EU.
The new ONS figures are provided by the Labour Force Survey, a study of 130,000 people carried out every three months.
Its findings, which track the long-term impact of immigration by charting country of birth, are regarded as highly accurate.
By contrast, the Government's traditional method of measuring immigration, the International Passenger Survey carried out at ports and airports, has proved incapable of coping with migration flows.
One source of tension is that the Labour Force Survey has consistently shown much higher levels of immigration than those accepted by ministers.
It was this survey that showed one in nine people living in Britain were born abroad, the statistic which angered ministers when it was published last month.
A Home Office spokesman said: 'We have always said we would run our immigration system for the benefit of the UK. We are determined to use the system's flexibility to ensure we are doing the right thing by British workers and for the stability of the economy.'