Friday, September 18, 2009

immigration vs. informality

Britain's Independent newspaper, which ought to know better, seems to assert that illegal immigrants are the only ones working in the informal economy.
"The informal economy is comprised chiefly of those who came here illegally – often in terrifying circumstances – and those who applied for asylum but didn't get it, and haven't been deported yet. It grew particularly sharply between 1997 and 2002, when an economic boom enticed many people to Britain."
The article suggests that illegal migrants work mainly in construction, cleaning, catering, and hospitality services. Offering no proof, it asserts that "nationalities bind workers: Ghanaians pick litter; Nigerians clean toilets in the City; Romanians and Poles work in plumbing and maintenance."

Then the article goes on to suggest something sensible: an amnesty for illegal migrants to the UK.

Still, it is not only illegal arrivals who are working in the informal economy in the UK. Statistics I've seen suggest that the informal makes up approximately 12 percent of the UK's gross national product. The article suggests that there are about 600,000 illegal residents in the UK, out of a working population (courtesy of the Central Intelligence Agency Factbook) of more than 31 million. That means illegal immigrants comprise about 2 percent of the working population. Either they're all earning high wages picking litter and cleaning toilets, or the Independent needs to re-educate itself about the number of British citizens working in the informal economy.

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