ABC gaslights on immigration’s wage impacts

ABC business reporters Daniel Ziffer and Samuel Yang yesterday posted a spurious article defending the business lobby’s call for a strong reboot in Australia’s immigration program.

The authors cherry-picked a bunch of pro-big migration economists to claim that mass immigration does not push down wages:

Gabriela D’Souza, senior economist at the Committee for Economic Development of Australia (CEDA)… [says] “workers are not exactly like goods. Workers also consume products and services in the market and so that’s part of the reason why we see these impacts come about, that there’s no discernible impact on wages because we also see them contributing to the spending in an economy”…

Research says no

While there are some caveats about areas of exploitation and a concentration of migration in certain skilled professions depressing wages for locals, much research doesn’t back a general view that migrants are keeping wages lower…

“On aggregate, we just find that it’s basically a wash” [Gabriela D’Souza said].

One of the winners of this year’s Nobel Prize for Economics was David Card, whose work has consistently upended conventional wisdom…

It’s not a case of migrants equal lower wages, according to Ms D’Souza.

“That’s kind of a well-known fallacy in economics,” she said.

“We’ve seen the experiment of that in COVID, and in shutting down of our borders, and what impact that has on the labour market, which has been quite negligible”…

Brendan Coates [from the Grattan Institute]… agrees with Ms D’Souza that migrants don’t affect the wages of locals, on average. But “migration that is highly concentrated in sectors of the labour market can have bigger impacts on the wages of incumbents working in those sectors”…

Analysis of 1 million Australian temporary visas for high-skilled workers in a 2020 study published by Oxford University found that when a particular occupation received a lot of migrants the incomes of local workers tended to rise as they adjusted to competition by shifting to other jobs, often earning higher pay.

Why not cite studies/economists arguing that immigration does lower wages of incumbent residents. These include:

Indeed, economists, commentators and industry are now warning that wage inflation will surge unless Australia’s international border reopens. In doing so, they explicitly acknowledge that immigration lowers wages.

Let’s get back to basics here. The reason why Australian business groups like CEDA lobby so feverishly for a ‘strong migration program’ is obvious: it enables them to hire from a global pool of labour which reduces local worker bargaining power, holds down wage costs, abrogates their need to provide training, and gives businesses a bigger pool of consumers to sell goods and services to.

It is as simple as the above. Everyone knows it to be true because it is logical and 100% fact.

One only needs to look at the prior period of extreme immigration in Australia, which was associated by the sharpest collapse in Australia wage growth on record. If immigration had no impact on wages, we would not have seen Australia’s wage growth so badly miss the government’s and RBAs own forecasts:

Collapsing wage growth

The Australian Treasury’s own immigration propaganda report, Shaping a Nation, explicitly acknowledged that the overwhelming majority of Australia’s jobs growth (especially full-time jobs) went to migrants between 2011 and 2016, thus keeping the unemployment rate elevated:

Recent migrants accounted for two-thirds (64.5 per cent) of the approximately 850,000 net jobs created in the past five years. For full-time employment, the impact is even more pronounced, with recent migrants accounting for 72.4 per cent of new jobs created.

Migrants stealing jobs

Migrants took most jobs between 2011 and 2016.

Professor Peter McDonald released similar findings:

The permanent and temporary skilled migration policies established by the Australian Government from 1995 played an important role in meeting that labour demand…

From July 2011 to July 2016, employment in Australia increased by 738,800. Immigrants accounted for 613,400 of the total increase…

The RBA and Treasury has advised that Australia’s unemployment rate needs to fall to 4.5% or below to generate significant enough labour market tightness to lift wages. Obviously, this was a fool’s errand when 180,000 to 200,000 migrant workers flooded the economy every year pre pandemic.

However, thanks to the heavy fall in migrant workers due to COVID:

Temporary visa holders

Australia’s unemployment rate recently hit its lowest level since 2008, only thwarted by the recent lockdowns across NSW, Victoria and the ACT:

Indeed, independent economist Saul Eslake recently noted that the closure of Australia’s border to migrants has significantly reduced the amount of ‘competition’ which Australians who’ve lost their jobs face in seeking new ones. This, in turn, helps to explain why the unemployment rate has fallen faster than expected and should soon lead to rising wages:

“The longer our borders remain closed to international migrants, the easier it is for the targets for unemployment to be achieved”.

“For example, on average over the three years to March 2020, the working aged population was growing by around 22,000 a month. And that in turn meant you needed jobs growth of around 13,000 a month or more in order merely to stop the unemployment rate from rising. But since the onset of the pandemic and in the last six months or so, the working age population has only risen by around 8,300 a month. And that means that you can prevent the unemployment rate from rising with much less employment growth than pre-pandemic. Or, to put it another way, you only need employment growth of about 0.13% per month in order to get the unemployment down to less than 5% by the end of this calendar year. Whereas if the working aged population has been growing at its pre-pandemic rate, you would have needed employment growth of more than double that in order to get the unemployment rate down to 5% or less with no change in the workforce participation rate”…

Does the ABC honestly believe that Australia’s unemployment rate would have cratered to only 4.5% had Australia’s labour force added 180,000 migrant workers over the past year, as was the case pre pandemic? Obviously not.

It, therefore, stands to reason that rebooting immigration post pandemic, as forecast by the Intergenerational Report:

Net overseas migration

Will necessarily drive unemployment back up, in turn scuttling the RBA’s unemployment and wage growth targets.

Australians already suffered a decade of stagnating real wage growth on the back of mass immigration, alongside declining amenity. The Morrison Government’s planned mass immigration reboot would be a fatal final blow for wages and living standards.

Sadly, the ABC has sided with the business lobby and chosen to gaslight Australian workers.

Unconventional Economist
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  1. Im guessing Labors Lobbyists are doing the rounds and filling us with there wisdom for Rainbows and Unicorns

    ABC needs to find themselves better economists.

  2. You know the leftards accuse newscorp and co for being shills for vested interests (which they are) but refuse to admit that the ABC is as well. And sometimes in a way that is more blantantly obvious.

    • ErmingtonPlumbingMEMBER

      The Careerist “social Progressives” at the ABC are just as pro business plutocracy and thus just as “Right wing” as News Corp.
      Both institutions are opposed to working class democracy and simply put forward a fake left right dichotomy centred around identity politics.
      Two separate factions of the same right wing plutocracy putting on a show for the plebs.
      A show that never challenges the economic status quo.
      Going on about “leftards” proves you’ve been sucked in.

      • Especially when ever you take a stance that is against the goverments agenda they tend to reduce your funding….

    • Difference is that successive Coalition Governments for the better part of a generation have been engineering this situation through people placement, funding cuts, and outright threats.

  3. C'est de la folieMEMBER

    The ABC is now running another piece……..

    Housing is expensive now, imagine a market with more migrants. Economists see rent, house price lift in 2023

    Immigrants are just the magic ingredient/sarc

    They do raise house prices, they dont raise wages, presumably have no effect on global warming etc etc etc

    Seriously – I would vote for any party which stated simply

    ‘Our only policy is to limit immigration into Australia, as defined by Net Overseas Migration according to the ABS, to 75 thousand people per year.’

    All other policy positions are basically meaningless, and useless, unless the number of extra bums on seats is reduced and solidified around a number at about that level…..

    and the longer no major politician acknowledges this the more likely it is there will be a major election day desertion from mainstream politics

    • Display NameMEMBER

      It is only Australias skilled public servants that are able to source migrants that have zero carbon footprint, don’t put pressure on wages, have no additional requirement for infrastructure or services off any kind and magically, again, do not affect house prices.

      FFS, when will we *ever* get a sensible discussion on migration. You are onto something, limiting migration may be the single policy that would have positive impacts on across the board.

    • Totes BeWokeMEMBER

      You are one of the main defenders of continuing to vote for this.

      Unless Australia turns on Labor, this is not stopping.

      LNP, Labor, MSM, big business, Treasury, and elites, all agree, MASS IMMIGRATION IS AWESOME.

      Elites have infiltrated Labor. They are no longer the workers and plebs party. Why defend them? People like you are the reason Australians havn’t been able to stop this.

      There is a single, just one, sole way, to stop this.

      • Yeah Yeah… Rant away like a loonie. ALP let in less immigrants per Capita while in power than the Current mob… but they are the problem…. Current mob talks lower immigration, i.e. protecting the borders, while letting in between 3 and 5 times as many as the ALP.

        Just admit it you have an issue with the ALP that borders on deranged…..

        Show, me on this little dolly where the bad ALP touched you…..

        • Totes BeWokeMEMBER

          Anyone with a shred of logical cognition understands it.

          If you don’t have an opposition to immigration, guess what?

          You don’t have an opposition to immigration.

          Read that a hundred times.

          • I could read that statement 1000 times, it would not make it any more relevant.

            Everything with you is the fault of the ALP, no matter what. You have an irrational position and love ranting about it. 7 out of the last 29 years has been under the ALP and everything wrong is their fault… Despite the fact an opposition party doesn’t rule and the media runs campaigns against them to keep the lying LNP in power.

            NO immigration is stupid, So expecting a policy that is anti immigration is nuts. A sensible level of immigration is a policy worth backing, but what is a sensible level?

          • Totes BeWokeMEMBER

            “7 out of the last 29 years has been under the ALP and everything wrong is their fault”

            Correct. Because they’re unelectable, we get LNP.

            “media runs campaigns against them to keep the lying LNP in power”

            Australians want lower immigration. MSM didn’t campaign against immigration, and neither did Labor. Most Australians have lost trust in MSM.

            “A sensible level of immigration is a policy worth backing, but what is a sensible level?”

            Without Labor calling for a debate, there is no debate.

            Unless Labor steps up, the plebs have no representation in Australia. That is 100% Labor’s doing.

          • Totes BeWokeMEMBER

            Both Gillard and Rudd increased immigration.

            Genuine question. Why do you defend Labor? They have betrayed us in such an horrific way.

          • I dont Vote ALP. I dont support them, but I know attacking the ALP when they have not been in a position to do anything is stupid and only makes it harder for a viable alternaive position to be proposed. Have you not been paying attention at all to how the LNP shut down any debate in parliament, and how the media ignores any press releases from the ALP?

            I am just not stupid enough to think the ALP hasnt won elections because they have not had the better policies or track record. Howard won heaps by lying about refugees and the media backed him… scare campaigns. Rudd and Gillard lost because the media lied about the programs they ran being full of waste, which numerous inquiries, even under LNP found was not true… As far as Australians loosing faith in the MSM, yes, this is true, but only relatively recently, like in the last election cycle….

            And yes, immigration did go up under Rudd, but only the first 2 years and aftetr that it went down, it didnt go up at all under Gillard. Did you know it went up every year under Howard except the first year? Dropped the first year by 13 % and then increased every year after, his last 3 years by between 13 and 18% each… He ran an anti immigration platform while increasing the rate by the highest amounts in 50 years…. and the media backed him on it… demonising one group of people while importing huge numbers of others…
            Check it out here….

      • Totes,

        News flash….. Australia turned on Labour about 10 years Ago.

        That is why we’ve enjoyed the last 10 or more years being ruled by the brown shirts from the Libwral National fascist party.

        That you cant see your own bias reveals your cognitive dissonance. Your rantings are ridiculous.

        Labour AND the LNP are the problem. Not one or the other.

    • kierans777MEMBER

      Seriously – I would vote for any party which stated simply

      Hear, hear. On this issue Labor are the best of a bad bunch.

      (I can hear Totes exploding right now)

    • TailorTrashMEMBER

      What a spruke that was from the ABC
      …even the vibrants want more immigration …really ?

      ….and the developers lobby calling for “better planning “
      Ie …get the bulldozers ripping out those trees , gardens and homes for more skyboxes for vibrants

      Sydney and Melbourne have a bleak future

    • reusachtigeMEMBER

      Yeah nah. I, like all good people, will vote for the party that says “Your house values will be lower under a Labor government and taxes will be higher!”.

    • Circular ArgumentsMEMBER

      So they interview lots of migrants, who all state they can’t afford house prices in inner Melbourne, and don’t want to rent,
      and who are in favour of more migrants to increase the rent and house prices (as they delusionally say they will have a house by then to benefit)…

  4. There’s no “government interference” in Ita’s ABC. Not when their SBS-style amplification of the treacherous and destructive Morrison-Albanese mass-migration deal is even more obliging than that of Costello NineFax.

  5. That ABC article was truly shameful and embarrassing – full of motherhood statements, vague opinions and irrelevancies. How is the minimum wage relevant to immigration policy? The Mariel Boatlift happened in 1980 when there was no AI, no Internet, no email, no mobile phones, and hardly any personal computers. What kind of jobs did these Cuban immigrants actually do? Were they absorbed by the retirement and tourist industries that are very specific to Miami? It would be more relevant to look at the Black Death of 1348.

  6. Didn’t they have Liz Allen as woman of the year or some such?

    She can’t even understand basic concepts on economics.

    • I listen to ABC radio quite a bit and at least a couple of times a week I cringe when I hear the introduction ” ANU demographer Liz Allen says…” as I know logic is being discarded and biased opinion is about to be foisted upon me. I reckon she is funded by AIG or some such clown show.

      • WhatcouldgowrongMEMBER

        I suspect there might be personal (religous?) biases, given her own substantial contribution to alleviating our demographic ‘crisis’ (I heard 7 kids at last count). Her position just happens to fit the narrative.

  7. Professor DemographyMEMBER

    In your list above I note there are only three studies. Other economists/commentators like D’Souza cite research showing immigration having little effect on wages and say there is more research showing that. I find the methods unconvincing as they are often regressions (called modeling in these circles) that use data from specific periods with a range of sometimes hard to follow decisions about covariates etc.

    The problem is I see nobody discussing this literature. Is it a known secret amongst economists that much of this modeling doesn’t really capture the reality?

    I am aware that some of the modeling captures wage decreases. I’m more interested in why none of this is discussed very much.

    • darklydrawlMEMBER

      Good points. In my experience I note that selectively choosing the data start / end points and/or time horizons can influence the data outcomes to your desired result. Often lacking is clear definitions of what excactly is being measured, when and why. Usually plenty of weasel words in there as well.

    • I’ve added more modelling to the list – from the PC and Property Council.

      Both state that immigration lowers wages.

      I could find more in MB’s back catalogue. But I’d need to spend more time searching.

      • Professor DemographyMEMBER

        Thanks Leith,

        Some of the other modeling you mention shows decreases in certain circumstances, which I’d agree are the most relevant to our own. Also, what I don’t think I see modeled is our whole system of combined permanent, skilled, family and temporary/student visas with work rights etc.?

  8. Muttafukaburrasaurus.MEMBER

    Migrant are great for branch stacking. Who else but a recent arrival would actually want to be a member of the LIb/Alp shitheap.

  9. Magnus MaximusMEMBER

    I’m glad you pulled this apart I was absolutely gobsmacked at the audacity at claiming the sky is green. A lot of ordinary people have noticed that since borders have closed there are a lot of retail/hospitality places with signs on the window looking for workers and a lot of professional/technical workers have been inundated with messages from recruiters offering double-digit pay rises. But of course we must ignore reality because economic theory states that mass-migration actually has a positive effect at all times because displaced workers immediately retrain in high paying jobs or start businesses and the cost of widgets falls so their purchasing power increases as well

    • ErmingtonPlumbingMEMBER

      The Establishments willingness to just out right lie and omit on issues like this is part of the reason why we still have a sizeable percentage of the population that don’t trust the government on anything Covid either.
      Same for climate Change action.
      People are correct to instinctively feel something is wrong, that they are being lied to but most of them just aren’t able to put their finger on what it is actually going on.
      Most people are bored by politics.

  10. C'est de la folieMEMBER

    It’s your ABC’s turn to try and load a spoonful of pro population Ponzi gruel into your consciousness.

    That serving is intellectually insipid, bereft of traction on the lived experience of everyday Australians, and dismissive of their experiences, and ultimately there to serve as a fig leaf by the social progressive world to cover the pernicious economic ideology of a government looking first and foremost for its ticket clipping mates …..

    Let’s see just how bad it can get…..

    As migration restarts, will it hold down wages for everyone?

    By business reporters Daniel Ziffer and Samuel Yang

    Posted 3h ago3 hours ago, updated 1h ago

    Does mass migration push wages growth lower for everyone?

    It seems a simple case of supply and demand: having more of something compared to how much is wanted keeps prices low.

    For example, if there are lots of fully stocked shops next to each other at the beach, one can’t charge markedly higher prices for the same kind of ice cream.

    But when COVID-19 forced Australia to shut international borders, it started a test that might kill off the applicability of that basic economic concept when it comes to people.

    That is a pretty straightforward play from the tee.  Basic economics 101.  The experience of incomes rising since the advent of Covid following on from the shutting off of the population Ponzi fits hand in glove with that.  This article will really need to polish some bullshido to get hold of readers from here.

    “It’s great to have this natural experiment, to show people that these things aren’t as straightforward as supply and demand,” said Gabriela D’Souza, senior economist at the Committee for Economic Development of Australia (CEDA).

    A nice quote from Gabriela D’Souza, but it adds nowt to the lede and relates nothing to how any experiment anywhere is taking us away from economics 101. 

    As the pandemic hit, our population fell for the first time in a century.

    Since the borders shut in March last year, more than 500,000 temporary migrants have left the country, according to a report by a parliamentary committee on migration.

    With the same amount of work to be done, the laws of supply and demand mean wages should have rocketed as employers used higher wages to compete for a much smaller pool of workers.

    So Gabriela and the writers of this piece are contending that unless incomes ‘skyrocket’ economics 101 goes out the window.  Someone needs to explain to Gabriela and the writers that the economy went into the pike position due to lockdowns and people being warned not to attend crowded locations like restaurants and sports events.  As Gabriela (Bachelor of Applied Economics, Canberra and Master of Economics, Monash) should know, there hasn’t by any stretch of the imagination been the same amount of work to be done and that is well before we start to look at what sort of work has actually been done and who has been doing it, and what the response of employers (with their frame of view distorted by the effect of JobKeeper taking us away from economics 101) has been.

    But Ms D’Souza has found in her research that a person can’t be treated in the same way as an object like an ice cream.

    “Workers are not exactly like goods,” she explained.

    “Workers also consume products and services in the market and so that’s part of the reason why we see these impacts come about, that there’s no discernible impact on wages because we also see them contributing to the spending in an economy.”

    The first turd on the plate is right there.  Sure migrants consume.  But as Gabriela would know if their consumption is funded by their local endeavours – be they services provided or goods produced – then their consumption comes at the cost of consumption which may otherwise have been undertaken by local providers or producers.

    In Australia’s case, seeing as we produce sweet FA, that consumption tends to revolve around standard retail, housing, transport, medical services, and educational services – none of which add to Australia’s economic position and are yet another investment in the bubble we live within.  That bubble with a floor provided by the extra demand under grocery prices, competition for houses to rent or buy, crowded infrastructure etc etc – which all provides an additional margin support for those providing those services and a floor under prices overall.

    When Gabriela says ‘there’s no discernible impact on wages because we also see them contributing to the spending in an economy’ she is talking out of her backside.  She is implying that the additional supply in the labour market is in some way offset by (and equal to) the additional demand created in goods and service markets.  Pure horseshit.  The extent to which there is additional employment is framed by an employers profit maximising expectations, and if employers can have additional employment without growing wages then that will ordinarily be the approach they take – particularly in Australia’s heavily casualised and temporised labour markets.  Even if there is additional demand (which there is) it is not demand which couldn’t be met without additional employment or hours, let alone growing incomes for existing employees which brings us back to the new labour suppressing the incomes of existing labour

    Earn, consume, make a home

    With her husband and children, Colombian migrant Monica Hernández Mattos arrived in Adelaide 12 years ago as part of the skilled migrant program.

    She worked in jobs not linked to her qualification as a psychologist – cleaning, hospitality, fruit picking – for three years as she improved her English skills and adjusted to Australia.

    “I get the point when people will say, ‘Aha! They are taking our jobs!'” she said.

    “But I don’t see that it is like that, I think we just work like in a team with other communities: bringing new skills, bringing new experiences, new languages as well.”

    Ms Mattos is now working in the Victorian public service and using her international qualifications.

    Her family has built a life in Australia and they now work in increasingly complex, better-paid jobs and have started new businesses.

    “We’re coming here to contribute to the community. We’re not having the intention to take any jobs from anyone and I think there is enough room for everyone.”

    That is a lovely story and I am very happy for Ms Mattos, but the simple fact of the matter is that if she came here on a skilled migration program then the first question which arises is ‘why was she working in jobs not linked to her qualifications?’  The skilled migration program is supposed to source specialised skills in demand by Australian employers which aren’t readily available or quickly developable in Australian educational institutions amongst Australians.  It is not to get well educated desperadoes to come to Australia to work in labouring roles while adding to infrastructure demand.  One would also be inclined to ask why people coming to Australia on skilled visa need to practice their English if they are not working in the specialised field requiring they be issued with a skills visa.

    Ms Mattos may be a superb psychologist but she is hardly qualified to make an appraisal on whether migrants take locals jobs or not.  While I am sure she brings new experiences, new languages (seeing as she apparently has issues with English) and new skills (which is interesting seeing as Australia graduates thousands of psychologists each year who seem to have issues finding work in the field) she is here to work as a psychologist IF there are insufficient psychologists about (which I genuinely doubt).  Finally if she is now working inside the Victorian public sector one assumes that this was not the sponsor of her skills visa – the entire generation of a  skills visa needs to be questioned from about there.

    Overseas worker ‘tap’ turned off

    By aggressively importing workers – a 10th of Australia’s population had arrived in the decade before the pandemic began – the nation massively boosted the number of working-age people.

    Over the same period, wage growth has been pathetic, meaning the purchasing power of wage earners has been stagnating, despite headline economic growth.

    In a speech in July, Reserve Bank of Australia governor Philip Lowe said the ability of Australia’s employers to “tap” global labour markets for foreign workers may have permanently changed wage dynamics in Australia.

    Dr Lowe said companies could hire foreign workers to overcome bottlenecks and to fill gaps where workers were in short supply. This had helped businesses operate efficiently, particularly during the resources boom.

    But the ability to get foreign workers from overseas “dilutes” growth or “upward pressure” on wages in some parts of the economy, he conceded.

    He said it was possible there were “spillovers” into the rest of the labour market and that the pool of talent meant less momentum for businesses to skill up people here.

    “This hiring can also dilute the incentive for businesses to train workers to do the required job,” Dr Lowe said.

    The above stanza rips away any sense of the population Ponzi not nailing incomes growth to the floor.  Ten percent of the Australian workforce has recently migrated, massively boosting the number of working people.  This is beyond any growth in demand for these people as employees, and this has consequently nailed incomes growth to the floor.  No surprise all round.

    The only real surprise is that it took the RBA ten years to acknowledge this fact.  They have now done so – falling into line with what David and Leith and others have been stating at Macrobusiness for more than a decade.

    Research says no

    While there are some caveats about areas of exploitation and a concentration of migration in certain skilled professions depressing wages for locals, much research doesn’t back a general view that migrants are keeping wages lower.

    “That [impact] certainly might be the case in certain occupations,” Ms D’Souza said, but added that overall the impact is nothing.

    “On aggregate, we just find that it’s basically a wash.”

    One of the winners of this year’s Nobel Prize for Economics was David Card, whose work has consistently upended conventional wisdom.

    His most influential, and controversial, work disputed the previously widely accepted idea that increases in the minimum wage lead to job losses

    That work has been used by the Biden administration to push for a $15 minimum wage in the US.

    But it builds on his earlier ground-breaking work about the Mariel Boatlift of 1980.

    As Cuba’s economy crashed, about 125,000 people escaped to nearby Miami in the US over a period of just six months.

    Even though it dramatically altered the Miami economy, Professor Card found wages and unemployment for Miami residents with low levels of education – those considered most likely to lose jobs or conditions because of the flood of fresh labour – didn’t change.

    That research was at odds with anti-immigrant sentiment and exploded basic economic theories of supply and demand. But more recent studies have backed it up.

    Modelling by CEDA found temporary skilled migration has been an overwhelming net positive for the Australian economy because it filled skills shortages and helped transfer new knowledge and experience to workers born in Australia.

    It’s not a case of migrants equal lower wages, according to Ms D’Souza.

    “That’s kind of a well-known fallacy in economics,” she said.

    “We’ve seen the experiment of that in COVID, and in shutting down of our borders, and what impact that has on the labour market, which has been quite negligible.”

    Next comes a stanza of complete schlock. 

    Card and the Miami boatlift is not Australia in the 21st century.  Miami has a far more diverse and vibrant economy than most places in Australia, and of course is part of a massively larger and more diverse economy which actually applies skills to service its own needs.  The United States does not live off redistributed resources and commodities income the way Australia does and has vastly cheaper labour laws, housing costs and opportunities for both migrants and locals.  Beyond all that the US does also provide ample evidence that flooding the labour market with migrants leads to deleterious incomes growth (and consequent political implications)

    The switch mid stanza to a reference to CEDA and Gabriela simply underlines how nefarious is the reference to Card and Miami – they are irrelevant to the thrust and lede of the article.  Equally as irrelevant are unbacked assertions by Gabriela and CEDA about migration filling skills shortages – what, In picking apples or stocking supermarket shelves while learning English? – or transferring skills and knowledge to Australian workers – would someone somewhere care to point to a single instance of a skills shortage of a skill which Australia does not have and which Australian education institutions couldn’t churn out in a year or so.  There is nothing in this entire spurious pabulum of drivel that goes near to identifying one.

    Gabriela may babble on about fallacies and such but offers nothing to support the idea that anything she says is anything less of a fallacy. As already mentioned the shutting down of the borders due to Covid has been accompanied by the shutting down of whole sectors of the economy, and therefore is alone absolutely no basis for asserting that the population Ponzi isn’t nailing incomes growth to the floor.

    Exploitation hurts all

    There’s one hitch to the theory.

    Certain types of visas – particularly temporary and student permits – make people more vulnerable to exploitation by employers. When the threat of deportation or punishment looms, migrants can be stuck in exploitative work and underpaid.

    This can go on to depress wages in that sector: something seen through large-scale wage theft and rip-offs in hospitality and the agricultural sector.

    Chinese migrant Xueliang Wang came to Australia in 2018 in search of a better life, instead, he said, he fell victim to workplace exploitation.

    In March 2020, he started working 11-hour shifts picking fruit on a farm on the mid-north coast of New South Wales, while living in a shipping container with his wife.

    He told the ABC he was paid less than $100 per day despite the job being advertised with a $17 hourly rate, and they had to pay $150 a week for sleeping in the steel shipping container.

    He described the working and living conditions at the farm as “very unhealthy”.

    “It’s very tiring to work 11 hours a day and I got bitten a lot by mosquitoes and insects during the summer,” the 57-year-old said.

    “It’s pure exploitation.”

    He said around 50 workers, mostly from mainland China, had to share four showers and a rusty kitchen with only four stoves. Three months after arriving he was finally fed up and quit the job.

    “A lot of them couldn’t quit because they can’t speak English and worried about finding a new job,” Mr Wang said.

    “I’m very angry, I thought Australia is an advanced country, but this shows quite the opposite. I’m angry for them as well.”

    Now we get to just how palsied the assertions by Gabriela on behalf of CEDA (which appear to be the only underpinning of this entire article) actually are.  An individual who has manifestly been suppressing incomes by precisely the base line mechanism for doing so – exploitation.   Why are fruit or vegetable pickers being imported? Producers use them precisely because they have no organisation, no language skills with which to organise with Australian labour, no comprehension of existing Australian workplace law, and no quality of life expectation comparable with ordinary Australians.  Producers use these people as their favoured employees precisely because of these attributes, and in doing so they minimise the need for those producers to improve labour conditions and income outcomes – by definition they are suppressing incomes and conditions    

    Where migrants depress wages

    Rampant wage theft at convenience store chain 7-Eleven led operators to repay staff – including a huge pool of migrant workers — more than $173 million.

    Examples like that inform Brendan Coates, who leads the economic policy program at independent think tank Grattan Institute

    “Where migrants’ labour rights have not been enforced, this can hurt the wages of similarly-skilled incumbent Australians employed in the same sectors,” he wrote in a report he co-authored earlier this year.

    Temporary visa holders are more at risk of exploitation than permanent visa holders because they must meet conditions – like staying employed – to remain in Australia and go on to seek a permanent visa.

    But Mr Coates sees the problem as being with the design of temporary work visas and lax enforcement of labour laws in sectors where migrant workers are concentrated.

    He agrees with Ms D’Souza that migrants don’t affect the wages of locals, on average. But “migration that is highly concentrated in sectors of the labour market can have bigger impacts on the wages of incumbents working in those sectors”.

    Meaning migrants concentrated in particular jobs or geographies will tend to reduce local workers’ wages.

    Although even that might not always be the case.

    Analysis of 1 million Australian temporary visas for high-skilled workers in a 2020 study published by Oxford University found that when a particular occupation received a lot of migrants the incomes of local workers tended to rise as they adjusted to competition by shifting to other jobs, often earning higher pay.

    The shredded reputation of Gabriela and CEDA forming the only plank of this entire spurious piece, gets backed into a corner and pummelled, and the legs turn to peanut butter – the corner throws in the towel…….. 

    Another serving of migrant exploitation (by migrants more often than not in the 7/11 instance).  Another straight out acknowledgement that migrants and spurious visa allocations knee the conditions and incomes of locals in the cojones.

    Brendan Coates (for whom I have plenty of time) doesn’t go any closer to supporting Gabriela than a comment from a year ago to the extent that there are sectors which may not have population Ponzi flooding the income and conditions prospects of locals. 

    The coup d grace comes in the form of ‘Meaning migrants concentrated in particular jobs or geographies will tend to reduce local workers’ wages.’ .  Lets call that circumstance ‘Australia in the 2010s and 2020s’

    The authors throw some burley off the side of the article in the form of a reference to oxford university – but only if the locals go and get jobs elsewhere.  Thanks guys.

    Room for all

    Cath Scarf runs AMES Australia, which does everything from meet people at the airport to run English language classes – helping around 40,000 migrants settle into Victoria each year.

    She doesn’t buy the supply and demand theory that migrants lower wages.

    “It’s simple for us to try and say ‘A equals B’, isn’t it?” she said.

    “The impact that migrants have on wages, and the economy generally is a positive one. They’re filling important skills gaps. They’re bringing obviously new consumer demand to the economy.”

    Ms Scarf said the level of commitment required to leave your family and home to move to a new country powers people to take risks and strive for a better life.

    “So they’re incredibly aspirational and entrepreneurial and they will do whatever it takes to make that journey work,” she argued.

    Ms Scarf said the experience of her staff and clients was that visa settings – such as restricting international students to a maximum of 20 hours work a week – create environments where people can be exploited.

    “So the more that we can do to ensure that people have a clear pathway to permanency, then the more likelihood we’re able to work with those groups and ensure that they’re not in precarious work,” she added.

    Next onion in the soup is an English teacher – Cath. Cath doesn’t buy supply and demand.  That doesn’t matter because Cath isn’t teaching economics, she is an English teacher.

    Cath trots of the population Ponzi spruik of skills gaps.  Migrants are aspirational and entrepreneurial.  All good one supposes but they are here to fill skills gaps which don’t exist, and after that their aspirations and entrepreneurialism is directed to defrauding Australians about their rights and entitlements in being here, and making sure they can hang around.

    Cath brings in the concept of precarious work.  Someone should mention to Cath that the entire Australian workforce not involved in the loading of boats full of iron ore to China is precarious, if only at the risk the government may run out of stimulus capacity to keep the population Ponzi afloat.  Awareness of that is what prompts domestic Australians to try and maximise their incomes and conditions in the here and now, and the existence of exploitable migrants in large numbers is manifestly not in their interests. Specifically because these nail their employment conditions and remuneration outcomes to the floor

    Ms D’Souza wants to level the playing field.

    Last year’s budget included a plan to make newly arrived residents wait four years before being able to get income support like JobSeeker, the carers payment and parental leave pay. That income pressure leads to bad outcomes, she said.

    “So an engineer might come here, find that it’s taking them too long to find a job and will probably just work at whatever so that they can make ends meet,” she said.

    “If they were eligible for support, they might wait a bit longer and find the right job for them.”

    Meanwhile, Monica from Bogotá is now Monica of Melbourne.

    “Absolutely. I feel that Australia is my home,” Ms Mattos said.

    “We’ve got an income, we’re paying taxes, we’re contributing to the community in a good way.”

    “We are very happy here. Not only happy but very grateful.”

    A speciously discombobulated serving of bilge from Gabriela rounds out the piece.  She is looking forward to migrants coming here on skills visas having a bigger slurp on the taxpayer through social welfare.

    She notes that if the skills that get the visas are pure bull in terms of the skills or the then those coming here on them will do whatever they can and take whatever they can get.  She would like them to be paid more by Australia while they wait for the right gig.

    The close out is with Ms Mattos who is happy.  She is probably the only one.

    Gabriela goes down by the bow with all hands lost……..

    • The BystanderMEMBER

      >“So an engineer might come here, find that it’s taking them too long to find a job and will probably just work at whatever so that they can make ends meet,” she said.

      You would think that travelling to a new country for skilled work, only for there to be no skilled work, would indicate that there wasn’t an urgent shortage to plug in that industry. But I guess we live in a post-modern world where any word can mean anything, so clearly Ms D’Souza subjectively believes that “skilled migration” means “living, breathing human who can perform tasks with minimal complaint of exploitation”. Just the sort of belief her big business paymasters want her to believe…

  11. Oh no….daniel ziffer is the only ABC reporter (apart from ian verrender) that I think has any idea of economics….all the others on ABC business (except ian verrender) are what I call pejoratively as “talking heads”, mouhpieces who can tell you what has happened like any reporter but cannot tell you why

    I saw ziffer a few weeks ago and also a few days ago and both times thought he understands economics from what I can see just based on little one minute clips….think he was going to do 30 minute show other day but did not see it

    The other week based on small clip I saw I wondered if ziffer would be equal in knowledge and ability like Michael west, ian verrender, crispin hull. The other day the clip I saw I thought oh no, this guy I think understands what is going on (unlike all other abc tv business reporters that are just mouthpieces, except for ian verrender) and is against your views. Then I just forgot about him till see your article

    Think he lives in Melbourne. Why not you or DLS personally catch up with him to explain your worldview. Perhaps he already reads this blog, if that is case you have already lost the ability to convert

    But I think ziffer has ability so worth investing in him to try change his worldview as he would be useful on abc tv espousing your views

    • “Perhaps he already reads this blog, if that is case you have already lost the ability to convert”.

      Why? Because I showed he was wrong? Are you suggesting that we shouldn’t have demolished his article?

      • with all due respect think you have misunderstood my point. do you want to keep punching his head in, or do you want him on your side on ABC TV espousing your worldview. Think this ziffer guy will pay HUGE dividends if you can get him on your side, I really do. He will have a huge audience given people watch ABC TV. I would not suggest this if I did not think it could benefit us hugely by getting your message out there.

        I should have also said earlier perhaps you could send gunnamatta / cest de a folie as proxy for you and DLS if you were busy

        and my comment about not being able to convert him because you demolished him. have you ever demolished someone’s argument to see them dig in even deeper because their ego has been shattered even though you know deep down they see your point. sometimes people can never go backwards because it means they made a mistake which they cannot show to world as seen as weakness. if ziffer is this type of personality (which i have no idea whether he is or is not except to say tv peronalities normally have big egos) then you will have huge problems converting him

        and from the little i have seen of ziffer i thought immediately this guy has knowledge. hull and verrender and west are on your side, why not have ziffer on your side. he will be very useful and is articulate on TV

  12. The BystanderMEMBER

    >Why not cite studies/economists arguing that immigration does lower wages of incumbent residents

    Well obviously that would undermine the article’s agenda. And force the journalists to do some actual work, rather than act as de facto PR team for mass immigration think tanks…

  13. It, therefore, stands to reason that rebooting immigration post pandemic, as forecast by the Intergenerational Report: … Will necessarily drive unemployment back up, in turn scuttling the RBA’s unemployment and wage growth targets.”

    Spot on. And because the RBA has stated they are waiting for wage inflation to occur before IR’s go up it also keeps IR’s lower through lower wages. In turn this is crack for the housing market – more bodies to home, and lower IRs due to more bodies driving wages down.

  14. Google has 300 job vacancies in Australia right now. Which would easily be filled by skilled migrants if not for shut borders. So either they need to offer more to poach individuals from other business or open the borders?

  15. Who needs the IPA when we have MB? Anyone with an ounce of analytical skills could see that the case presented is only supported by cherry picking articles based on opinions and/or headline data (invalid), does not venture beyond national borders, always conflates modest capped permanent skilled with temporary NOM churn over of students (competing for skilled jobs?) and avoids peer reviewed research; always the same conclusion.

    Classic old divide and rule over the ‘workers’ by playing off against the ‘immigrants’ to advantage (often) non productive Australians higher up the food chain and avoids regulatory compliance of awards and conditions; class system based on eugenics aka radical right libertarian ideology or ‘Kochonomics’.

    Simply ‘kicking the can down the road’ for younger members of the workforce and those yet to enter working age, backgrounded by increasing dependency ratios i.e. more retirees and pensioners vs. proportionately fewer tax payers of working age to support budgets.

    Libertarian trap, which as we observe in the US aka Capitol Hill and GOP Reps, becoming more extreme and authoritarian to disrupt democracy for their insurrection or revolution for the top 0.1%; everyone else is simply collateral damage as Brexit voters have learnt the hard way (while falling into sullen and embarrassed silence).

    Well done Australia endeavouring to follow and be led by Kochonomics, GOP low life and Fox style media; doesn’t make Australians look very clever nor enlightened does it? Because it’s not meant to be but dragging society back to the sunlit uplands of 19thC master serf relationships.