A lot is being made today about the increase in numbers of Bulgarians and Romanians working in the UK.
This is based on Office for National Statistics figures that formed part of yesterday's publication of the Labour Market Statistics.
One of the many tables showed employment levels and rates by country of birth and nationality.
Here it indicated that the numbers of Bulgarian and Romanian workers has increased from 96,000 in Apr-Jun 2011, to 104,000 in Apr-Jun 2012 and up to 141,000 in Apr-Jun 2013. This shows an increase of nearly 47% over two years and 35.6% over the last year.
The percentage figures are being seized upon as proof by some that we are being swamped or are about to be swamped, but before we come to that conclusion maybe we should look at the big picture.
Now, I for one am for proper immigration control across the board, but we should not let a couple of figures lead us into a knee-jerk misconception.
The first point to note is that these are just the 'workers'. But do be aware of what the ONS definition of employment is*. Also, the data is drawn from the Labour Force Survey, which is a survey of households. Much more data would be needed about this group before we drew any real conclusions.
The second point is that the 141,000 is 0.47% of all those employed within the United Kingdom. Not a lot is it?
Roughly, according to the ONS figures, employment is spread like this based on 29.721 million employed (the numbers do not add up to exactly 100% because some people do not state their country of birth or nationality when the figures are compiled):
Non UK: 14.8%
EU: 5.5% (37.5% of all non UK)
Bulgaria & Romania: 0.47% (3.2% of all non-UK)
Then let's look at the employment rate of these groups by country of birth:
UK as a whole: 71.3%
Non UK: 67.9%
Bulgaria & Romania: 75.7%
Non UK, Non EU: 63.4% (which can be broken down further)
Food for thought eh?
This doesn't mean that we shouldn't control our borders, but when standing back and looking at the situation you can see that just focusing on a couple of figures in one table in a large report doesn't really tell us much.
* Employment – Anyone doing one hour or more a week of paid work is counted in the employment figures. This includes people on government supported training programmes if they are engaging in any form of work, work experience or work-related training. The employment estimates also include unpaid family workers, who work in a family business and benefit from the profits of the business although they do not receive a formal wage or salary. People working without pay (for example, volunteers in charity shops) are not included in the employment figures. For more ONS definitions click here.