The government slipped out a long-awaited report into immigration just as the home secretary was announcing a public inquiry into undercover policing today.
The report, which is considered a source of embarrassment to the home secretary for the way it knocks down her assertions about British job losses, was published just as Theresa May rose to her feet in the Commons to make a statement about police corruption linked to the Stephen Lawrence investigation.
Parliamentary observers suspected that the publication of the report had been timed to minimise the press attention on the immigration report, which has been dominating headlines throughout the week.
The report found there was "little evidence" migrant workers have a "statistically significant" impact on jobs of British workers, especially when the economy is strong.
It also found little evidence in the literature of a statistically significant impact from EU migration on native "employment outcomes".
Where there had been a displacement effect from a particular type of migrant worker, the effect dissipated over time.
However, it did find "evidence for some labour market displacement in recent years when the economy was in recession".
Even with the caveat the report is intensely humiliating for the home secretary, as it makes a mockery of her oft-repeated comment that 23 British jobs are lost for every 100 immigrants arriving in the country.
Immigration report executive summary in full:
- Overall, our assessment is that there is relatively little evidence that migration has caused statistically significant displacement of UK natives from the labour market in periods when the economy has been strong. However, in line with some recent studies, there is evidence for some labour market displacement in recent years when the economy was in recession.
- Displacement effects are also more likely to be identified in periods when net migration volumes are high, rather than when volumes are low – so analyses that focus on data prior to the 2000s are less likely to find any impacts. In addition, where displacement effects are observed, these tend to be concentrated on low skilled natives.
- This suggests that the labour market adjusts to increased net migration when economic conditions are good. But during a recession, and when net migration volumes are high as in recent years, it appears that the labour market adjusts at a slower rate and some short-term impacts are observed.
- To date there has been little evidence in the literature of a statistically significant impact from EU migration on native employment outcomes, although significant EU migration is still a relatively recent phenomenon and this does not imply that impacts do not occur in some circumstances.
- The evidence also suggests that where there has been a displacement effect from a particular cohort of migrants, this dissipates over time – that is, any displacement impacts from one set of new arrivals gradually decline as the labour market adjusts, as predicted by economic theory.