Incorrect. These employment figures don’t tell us the number of new workers, only the overall change in employment. The claim also defines “foreigners” as all people born outside the UK, including those who are UK citizens. About 450,000 more people in the UK were employed in July-September 2016 than had been the year before, and roughly half of the increase was due to an increase in the number of non-British citizens.
So it matters who you class as a ‘foreigner’. Do you include anyone who was born outside the UK? Do you stop calling them a foreigner when they become a citizen? Or do you use some other standard all together?
Neither group is a subset of the other. You can be in both born in the UK and be a UK citizen, you can be neither, or you can be just one of them.
Boris Johnson, the UK’s foreign secretary, is an example a UK citizen who was born in New York. He would be included in the Times’ definition of ‘foreigner’.
Perhaps more confusingly, these figures aren’t actually telling us the numbers of new workers.
Imagine 20 people lose their job and 40 different people find one. The overall change is 20 more people in work, even though there are actually 40 ‘new workers’.
These employment figures just tell us the overall change. We know the number of people employed and unemployed in one year, and the number of people employed and unemployed in the next year. We also know their citizenship status and where they were born.
But these figures don’t tell us how many people have been hired, fired or quit.
Nor do they tell us who gets what kind of jobs, who is winning or losing from immigration, or why the changes have happened in the way they do.
Hiring and Firing
Some statisticians have said it’s statistically "meaningless" to make the kind of comparison the Times has done, and the UK Statistics Authority has cautioned against people making similar comparisons in the past.
The ONS does publish experimental statistics for the number of people entering and leaving work. It doesn’t published breakdowns by nationality or country of birth, and told us that it wouldn't be possible in the foreseeable future.
Update 18 November 2016
This article was updated to include a response from the ONS.
We can’t sugar coat how difficult this year has been for good information.
News this year has fractured communities, and caused confusion and panic for many of us. No one can control what will happen next. But you can support a debate based on fair, accurate and transparent information.
As independent, impartial fact checkers, we rely on individuals like you to ensure the most dangerously false inaccuracies can be called out and challenged.
Could you chip in to support an accurate and fair debate today?