Does "uncontrolled mass migration" push down wages?

Published: 30th Sep 2016

In brief


Mass migration pushes down wages.


UK research suggests that immigration has a small impact on average wages of existing workers but more significant effects for certain groups: low-wage workers lose while medium and high-paid workers gain.

“We must not have uncontrolled mass migration because it pushes down wages."

Steven Woolfe MEP, 29 September 2016

Research suggests that immigration has a small impact on the average wages of existing workers, but certain groups of people are affected differently. For example, low-wage workers lose out while medium and high-paid workers gain.

The group most likely to see a reduction in wages because of immigration to an area are resident workers who were originally migrants themselves.

If an area sees a 10% increase in the proportion of immigrants working in semi-skilled or unskilled service jobs, average wages in those sectors decrease by around 2%, according to one particular study by the Bank of England.

But between 2004/06 and 2012/14 the ratio of foreign born to UK born workers across the whole of the UK only rose by 8% in low-skilled and semi-skilled service jobs, so this is a relatively small effect. Other sectors looked at in the report saw smaller increases.

This factcheck is part of a roundup of BBC Question Time. Read the roundup.


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