The Telegraph joins in to selectively quote Mark Carney - and distort what he really said
The Daily Mail reports that Bank of England governor Mark Carney has made an ‘explosive intervention’ and said ‘foreign workers drag down UK wages’.
The paper’s front page story then quotes Migration Watch who say migration figures just released by the Office for National Statistics explain why wages are not rising.
Strangely, the story only quotes a few words from Carney itself. Or perhaps not so strangely, since it completely distorts his position.
The Telegraph runs with the same story, but quotes a bit more from Carney:
“He said: “In recent years labour supply has expanded significantly owing to higher participation rates among older workers, a greater willingness to work longer hours and strong population growth, partly driven by higher net migration.
“These positive labour supply shocks have contained wage growth in the face of robust employment growth. Wages have grown by around 2 per cent in the past year – less than half the average rate before the global financial crisis – and a key risk is that these subdued growth rates continue.”
Why these papers chose to focus on immigration and not more older workers, people working longer hours, or the other reasons for population growth, I can’t possibly imagine.
When you trace this quote back to the Bank of England report though, the picture changes. Here’s the very next line from Carney:
“Such strong growth in labour supply is unlikely to be sustained. Going forward, growth in the UK economy’s potential will increasingly depend on productivity.”
So the image of an ever-increasing wave of foreigners stealing our jobs and driving down wages is based on labour supply growth with more than one cause and which is ‘unlikely to be sustained’. How peculiar the Telegraph stopped before this line!
When asked if cheap foreign labour was the reason productivity is low, Carney said: ‘Well, I would really dampen down that explanation.’
He said the combined total of additional older workers and extra work via more hours over the last two years amounts to the equivalent of 500,000 more workers. Meanwhile, he said, ‘the increase in net migration over that same period, the last two years is 50,000.’
He added that foreign workers were usually overqualified for low-skilled work and quickly move into higher-skilled jobs, adding that they actually boost productivity.
Efforts by the Mail and the Telegraph to enlist the Bank of England governor into their campaign to reduce immigration lead them to distort what he actually said and thinks.
These stories come as the government seeks to avoid having to take in more migrants, after the European Commission suggested quotas for member countries to save migrants from drowning at sea. This in turn is part of the prime minister’s new get-tough approach with the EU, cheered on by the Tory press.
It’s relevant then to note that Carney today called the EU ‘the largest investor in the United Kingdom’ and ‘the largest economy in the world’.
Adam Barnett is a staff writer at Left Foot Forward. Follow MediaWatch on Twitter
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