Page 3: Economic factors
Most migrants come to the UK from countries that are less economically developed. They can earn a better wage in the UK than in their home country. For example, the average monthly salary in the UK in 2007 was almost £2,500 whereas in Poland it was £500. This difference in wages allows the migrants to enjoy an improved standard of living. The migrant workers are also able to send money back to their families who remain in their home countries.
However, as well as the economic benefits migrant workers receive themselves, they are also an important part of the UK economy, both in public and private sectors. According to government figures, the working output of new migration adds 0.5% to the country's Gross Domestic Product (GDP). In 2006, this was equivalent to adding an extra £6 billion to the economy.
One of the reasons why migration improves the economy is that it increases the size of the total labour market. Migrant workers to the UK replenish a decreasing workforce. In 2006, 400,000 people left the UK and 590,000 people arrived, 157,000 of these came to study. Migrant workers fill several areas of the labour market where there are skills shortages or they do jobs that people in the UK do not want to do because the working conditions may be poor or wages low. Often migrant workers are 'de-skilled' because they take work in different industries at a lower skill level than the one for which they are qualified. These industries include agriculture, hospitality and food packing.
Many business leaders express the view that migrant workers often have a more positive work ethic than domestic workers. Employing workers who not only have the necessary skills but who are also keen to work allows many businesses to achieve a competitiveadvantage. UNISON recognises the benefits to the economy that migrants bring. It has worked hard to ensure that workers receive fair pay and valid career opportunities to keep attracting migrant workers to the UK.