Australia has developed a full-blown migrant underclass


Several years ago, the Australian Population Research Institute (APRI) released a report, based on 2016 Census data, revealing that most recently arrived skilled migrants (i.e. that arrived between 2011 and 2016) cannot find professional jobs.

Specifically, only 24% of skilled migrants from Non-English-Speaking-Countries (who comprised 84% of the total skilled migrant intake) were employed as professionals as of 2016, compared with 50% of skilled migrants from Main English-Speaking-Countries and 58% of the same aged Australian-born graduates.

APRI’s results were supported by a 2017 survey from the Bankwest Curtin Economics Centre, which found that 53% of skilled migrants in Western Australia said they are working in lower skilled jobs than before they migrated to Australia.

Similarly, an Adelaide University survey of 1700 skilled migrants living in South Australia found 53% felt they were not utilising their skills and abilities, with 44% working in a job different from what they nominated in their visa application. 15% were also unemployed.


The latest Graduate Outcomes Survey (GOS) supports these findings, showing that only 41.6% of international graduates living in Australia were employed full-time in 2021, versus 68.9% of domestic student graduates:

The median full-time salary of international graduates was also only $54,300 in 2021, well below the $65,000 median full-time salary of domestic graduates:


Thus, a minority of international graduates work full-time, and of those that do work full-time, they are very poorly paid. The median total wage of international graduates would, therefore, obviously be even worse, given most international graduates work part-time (unlike domestic graduates).

Employment outcomes were poor across almost every international student source nation:


Finally, the percentage of international graduates working in managerial and professional occupations is also way below domestic graduates:


In particular, only 44.3% of international undergraduates were working as professionals in 2021, well below the 55.1% of domestic graduates.

Only 41.7% of international postgraduates were working as professionals in 2021, roughly half that of domestic postgraduates (81.8%).

All of this proves, yet again, that Australia’s ‘skilled’ visa system is a giant sham designed with one goal in mind.


The development of a full-blown migrant underclass for chosen sectors to exploit.

About the author
Leith van Onselen is Chief Economist at the MB Fund and MB Super. He is also a co-founder of MacroBusiness. Leith has previously worked at the Australian Treasury, Victorian Treasury and Goldman Sachs.