Mythbuster: 10 Questions Answered on Romanian and Bulgarian Immigration #5

Question #5 – Have the current wave of eastern-European migration driven down wages?

Don Flynn, Migrants Right Network Director, wrote:

“UK governments have striven for many years for a series of social and economic mechanisms that had the objective of reversing the wage growth associated with the 1960s and 70s and pegging this back to levels which they believed were consistent with sustainable growth.”

He and other pundits believe lower wages came as a result of recession in the 1980s, the decline of trade unions, further periods of recession in the 1990s, globalisation increasing competitiveness and a loss of about 1.5m jobs in manufacturing industry over the last decade which once sustained thousands of decently paid jobs.

Resolution’s chief executive, Gavin Kelly sees the problem of low pay as  the result of a long period when the fruits of economic expansion failed to feed through to those at the bottom. Recent research by the TUC showed that the erosion of living standards for lower-paid workers is a very long-term phenomenon: while incomes for the top 10% of earners increased by 50% in real terms between 1978 and 2008, they increased by just 27% for the bottom tenth; showing that the UK was already a lower wage economy when the immigration associated with the Labour government started to take off.

It is also important to note that not all eastern-European migration is low-skilled; many have contributed greatly to our economy and set up businesses which employ Britons.


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