David Cameron labelled them a ‘swarm’. Thousands of them have died in the Mediterranean. Border fences are being built to keep them out: Hungary, Spain, Bulgaria, Calais. The Slovakian Government will take a handful of them but only if they are ‘Christian’ (apparently they don’t do Muslims or Mosques). And all the while millions are being spent on aperverse mini-stimulus – as ‘defence contractors, outsourcing companies and security forces find willing buyers for their security-based “solutions”, bringing new surveillance systems, patrol vessels, co-ordination centres and detention facilities to the market with little scrutiny or due diligence.‘ A rational political and economic response gives way to militarisation.
This is what has been labelled the ‘migration crisis’ – as hundreds of thousands are seeking refuge, asylum, work and a better life while risking oppression and even their lives to come to Europe.
Much has been written on this subject – including this insightful analysis by Dr. Vincent Durac. I don’t intend to survey all the issues or appropriate responses as this crisis has many origins and dynamics and will require substantial doses of enlightened national policy combined with international cooperation. But here are a couple of thoughts.
First, the men, women and children that make up Cameron’s swarm – they are not a problem, they are a solution. They are a solution to Europe’s ageing demographic, skill base and employment crisis.
A key part of this is the fact that Europe is growing old. Using the EU’s main scenario demographic projection, we see that the EU’s total population will rise by 17 million while the number of over 65s will rise by 54 million. Working age population will fall by 34 million. 12 of the 28 EU countries are actually projected to experience an overall fall in their populations. With a higher proportion of elderly and a falling number of working age men and women, Europe is set to suffer a slow age crash.
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So you’re young, ready to take up work, make a bit of money and, most of all, make the social contribution that is expected of all members of the homo economicus species. There’s only one problem. You live in Ireland.
Following on from my previous blog on the weakness of our market economy to produce jobs – except in the construction sector – let’s look at employment growth by age. Overall employment is rising, even if it is patchy. But not for young people. For young people, the jobs recession continues apace.
Employment grew by 2.2 percent overall. But for young people – between 20 and 34 years – it fell by 1.5 percent. Among older groups – over 50s – employment grew by 5 percent.
When we drill down further, we find that those aged between 30 and 34 years saw employment fell by 3.1 percent.
This is part of a longer trend.
Since the crisis began, employment has fallen by 10 percent. However, for those aged 20-34, employment fell by a third. For other age groups, employment has recovered and increased – with employment among 50s and over increasing by 14 percent.
There has been some discussion about bringing Irish people back from abroad. It has been suggested that a main obstacle is our ‘high’ tax regime (sigh). As we see above, the problem remains what it has been some time ago – lack of jobs (though there will be some sectors that are undergoing growth).
Young people face more problems than just falling employment. Since 2008, nearly 475,000 people have emigrated. Unsurprisingly, the majority who left were young people. Over 300,000 men and women aged between 20 and 34 years have left the country – or 65 percent of all those emigrating.
For those who stayed behind it’s still tough out there in the labour market. The unemployment rate for those aged between 20 and 24 years the unemployment rate is 19.6 percent – twice the national average. No wonder Eurostat estimates that 40 percent of young people are at risk of poverty or social exclusion (for the age group 18 – 24 years).
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This article was originally posted on Socialist Economic Bulletin on the 6th of June.
The now notorious UKIP poster which suggested the entire population of the EU might come to Britain for work is designed to whip up racism. But it contains two fallacies that are unfortunately shared by many people who are not racists, and are therefore worth rebutting.
The first myth is that Britain is a uniquely attractive place within Europe in terms of pay or workers’ rights, or social security entitlements. The graphic below was produced by the UNITE union in Ireland in their argument for higher pay. But it is such a good graphic it is worth reproducing as it stands.
Graphic 1. Private Sector Hourly Compensation in Western Europe, € PPPs
Compensation includes both pay and social wages such as pensions and other benefits. The data is in Purchasing Power Parity terms, so that they account for price differentials between European countries. The data is drawn from Eurostat database here.
The compensation for British workers is among the lowest in Western Europe. Britain is not a uniquely attractive destination for economic migration within the EU. Therefore it should come as no surprise that Britain has one of the lower levels of immigration of the Western European economies.
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We All Partied?
They Partied. We Pay.
Sat 29th March, at 2pm
43 East Essex Street,
The Communist Party of Ireland would like to invite you to the first of our new series of public talks.
The first talk will deal with the establishment false claims that we have left the bailout and put behind us the “Programme For Ireland.”
Nothing more than spoof and spin.
Dr. Conor McCabe
(Author and Editor of Irish Left Review)
(Trade Union Left Forum)
(Professor of Equality Studies, UCD)
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The Youth Guarantee programme is potentially a positive development. To prevent long-term youth unemployment, the Government launched a programme that would guarantee young people either a place in education, training or a job.
However, a couple of developments put in question the operation and effect of this guarantee – and both revolve around our old friend, JobBridge. First, as part of the Youth Guarantee Implementation Plan, JobBridge will now become mandatory:
In the case of young people, failures to engage that will give rise to sanctions will include:
- Failure to apply for or accept an opportunity on the national internship scheme (JobBridge)
This suggests two things: first, young unemployment must now pro-actively apply for JobBridge – something that wasn’t required before. Second, it seems the Department will pro-actively create new JobBridge opportunities (that is, contacting employers to participate in the scheme) and then offering them to young unemployed; previously, JobBridge opportunities were generated by businesses alone. This indicates a substantial increase in the scheme.
And the sanctions will be pretty harsh. Young people could see their Jobseeker payment cut by up to 25 percent.
The second development is the news that one company – Advance Pitstop – has taken on 28 interns. This company employs 200 people nationwide so the interns, whose labour is essentially free, make up 14 percent of their payroll. Unsurprisingly, this made national news and not a little bit of criticism (this company is not the only one that has been featured in the media).
Should a scheme that provides labour to employers for free be mandatory? Clearly, there are areas of social protection which are already mandatory. For instance, a Jobseekers’ recipient must show they are available for, and actively seeking, work. Past practice also requires recipients to meet with Department officials as part of the evaluation process, take up a ‘legitimate’ offer of training / job or attend an accepted training / education course (of course, there’s a number of issues with ‘legitimate’).
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The Live Register has fallen below 400,000 – the first time since May 2009. While the Live Register is not an official measurement, the Seasonally Adjusted Standardised Unemployment Rate shows unemployment at 11.9 percent. Our unemployment rate is now down to the Euro zone average. This led the Minister for Social Protection to state:
‘Minister for Social Protection Joan Burton said the figures were encouraging and signalled Ireland’s return to being a “normal euro zone country”’.
Yes, when it comes to a straight unemployment rate we may well be a ‘normal euro zone country’. But there’s something that has been not so normal and which has impacted directly on the Irish unemployment rate. Yes, I’m talking about emigration.
Let’s compare the increase in Irish emigration since 2008 with that of other EU-15 countries. We’ll do this by taking the annual average number of emigrants between 2008 and 2011 (the last year Eurostat has data for) and comparing it with the annual average number of emigrants between 1998 and 2007.
Spain has been particularly hard hit – with over 400,000 emigrating in 2011. Ireland comes second followed by Portugal. After these three countries, the next hardest hit by emigration was Italy.
Irish emigration has been more than five times the average of other EU-15 countries. In terms of emigration, Ireland is hardly normal.
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Oh, the trouble one gets into by pointing out the obvious. There have been comments on the post, Purging Ourselves of Our Young, claiming that my factual reporting of the population fall in the youth age category of 15-24 was, to quote one commentator, ‘awful’ because I implied it was down to emigration. I didn’t, and I didn’t mean to. But I can see how it was read that way. So let’s clarify. Because no matter how you turn this thing upside down or right-side up, the extent and tragedy of youth emigration stares us in the face.
Basic numbers: the previous post charted the rise of emigration in the 15-24 year age group. This year, to April, it was 34,000. The post went on to show that there was a substantial fall in the age category of 15-29 – 224,000 or 21 percent. I should have tied-off the post by relating the emigration with the demographic fall because that is where the confusion arose.
Eurostat gives a more relevant age breakdown but only goes up to 2011 so we’ll have to extrapolate for the last two years. From the CSO we can assume that 48.3 percent of emigration since 2007 was recession-related for the age-group 15-29 (this is ascertained by comparing the percentage difference between emigration in the last five year with the previous five years for the age group 15-24)). Using the Eurostat data we can find the following.
Between 2008 and 2013, there was, according to Eurostat, with some extrapolation based on CSO:
- a population decline of 207,900 in the age cohort of 15-29 years
- In this same period, 281,800 in this age group emigrated
- If we assume that 48.3 percent of this emigration was recession-related, then the recession-related emigration figure is 136,100
So nearly two-thirds (65.5 percent) of the decline in the key age cohort is due to recession-related emigration.
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