February 16, 2012 • 12:35 pm

This morning, the Daily Mail reported that “580 foreigners a DAY got a job here last year”, citing the employment figures released by the Office for National Statistics yesterday. The Daily Express similarly reported that “Foreigners are snatching 580 jobs every day”.

According to the ONS figures, there was an increase in the number of people born outside the UK who are now in employment of 212,000, whilst amongst those born in the UK there was a decrease of 208,000. Both figures relate to employment amongst over-16s. The two papers appear to have taken the former figure and divided by 365 to get an average of 580.

Full Fact have covered the reporting of the number of non-UK workers in the past, highlighting the confusion of an increase in employment with the actual number of new jobs. The ONS have explicitly warned against this in their statistical bulletin following pressure from the UK Statistics Authority, stating that:

“The estimates relate to the number of people in employment rather than the number of jobs. These statistics have sometimes been incorrectly interpreted as indicating the proportion of new jobs that are taken by foreign migrants.”

Given the warning about this issue, it is unfortunate that the Express chose to report that “Foreigners are snatching 580 jobs every day” when the true figure relates to the number of people rather than the number of jobs.

Nevertheless, it is welcome that they have not reported this as newly created jobs – an improvement on their previous reporting.

It is also worth noting that these figures relate to people born outside of the UK, rather than non-UK nationals. The employment level amongst UK nationals was reduced by 166,000 over the last year, whilst amongst non-UK nationals there was an increase of 166,000 (which according to the averaging used by both papers would be 454 per day).

The ONS provide the following diagram to illustrate the changes and categories:

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