Study shows workforce would shrink without migrants

A new study has revealed the dramatic impact migration to Australia has had on the country's workforce.

Study shows workforce would shrink without migrants

Study shows workforce would shrink without migrants

Over the past five years, four out of five staff hired have been new migrants, and, without them, worker numbers in Australia would have actually fallen.

As debate rages over the number of foreign workers in Australia, a population expert in Melbourne has a sobering message.

The message from University of Melbourne professor Peter McDonald is aimed at those fearing migrant workers are taking what they call "our" jobs.

"Most of the long-term unemployed in Australia have low skills, and that's their problem. But it's not because of migration. And, if anything, migration, by leading to greater investment and so on, is actually creating jobs for that group."

Since 2011, employment in Australia has grown by 730,000 people, and 600,000 of them were new migrants.

Professor McDonald says it has transformed the workplace.

"The Australian labour force would have aged quite a lot without migration. Migration makes a very big difference to the age structure of the labour force by bringing in young workers, whereas all our growth at the moment without migration is with older workers."

The study found, without migration, the number of people under age 55 in the workforce would have slumped by more than 140,000.

But with new workers coming in from overseas, the numbers climbed by more than 450,000.

By contrast, among older workers, there would have been a boost of almost 270,000 without migration, a number only slightly higher with the five-year influx.

But the big growth in migrant-employment numbers has come with an increased risk of workplace exploitation.

Unions New South Wales says it has found four out of five jobs advertised in the ethnic media are paying at least $5 an hour below the award rate.

The organisation's secretary, Mark Morey, has described it as "rampant wage theft."

"Look, I think there is an increased risk of exploitation. And I don't think because of your education, where you were born or the language that's your first language, anyone has the right to exploit workers in this country. There is a minimum rate of pay. We're not asking for anything radical. We're just asking for people to obey the law. I don't think the Fair Work Ombudsman is funded enough or has the appropriate structures to deal with this problem and actually bring it under control."

But the workplace monitor has announced a crackdown on exploitation in the restaurant industry.

It has launched court action against one Melbourne operator after raids uncovered the alleged underpayment of staff by more than $30,000 over a two-week period.


3 min read
Published 17 July 2017 at 8:00pm
By Gareth Boreham