New migration figures butchered by Daily Mail


10:08 am - August 22nd 2009

by Jamie Sport    


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Journalism and statistics go together like Dog the Bounty Hunter on a dinner date with Tolstoy.

Usually, tabloid statistics come from some press release sent out by a company with a vested interest, from a “report” by the TaxPayers’ Alliance, or from an NGO, quango, or think-tank.

Sometimes, though, an ambitious journalist will tire of rewriting pre-compiled reports and studies and decide to go and look at the statistics for themselves. This is a risky thing to do because the journo is well aware of their lack of training in stats and the potential for time-consuming redrafts if they make a mistake.

Such is the case with Sue Reid’s “SPECIAL INVESTIGATION” on migrant workers and unemployment in yesterday’s Mail, headlined “Revealed: The areas where there are more migrants chasing jobs than locals“. Sue seems quite proud of her data-mining, as there’s a little photo of her looking pleased with herself next to the words “SPECIAL INVESTIGATION”.

The piece begins triumphantly: “The true extent of the huge influx of foreign workers into Britain is revealed in an investigation by the Daily Mail.” In a line that wouldn’t be out of place in a BNP pamphlet**, it adds, “The figure[s] expose as a sham the New Labour pledge of ‘British jobs for British workers”.

Sue helpfully explains the methods behind her SPECIAL INVESTIGATION and where she got her numbers from:

[The article] is based on information from each local authority based on two sets of official figures.

The first is the total in each area of National Insurance Numbers given to adult overseas nationals entering the UK during 2008. The second set of figures is the claimant count for each local authority area in July, compiled from Government statistics released last week. A claimant is a person on job-seekers’ allowance who is actively trying to find employment. Newly arrived foreigners cannot get this payout.

Her methodology is catastrophically flawed. She has taken the cumulative total number of National Insurance number (NINo) registrations for the entire financial year 2007-08, and compared it to the number of people claiming Jobseekers’ Allowance (JSA) in the single month of July 2009. Unsurprisingly, this has thrown up figures such as Edinburgh where supposedly the 10,022 “local jobseekers” are outnumbered by 12,450 “new migrant workers”.

Basically, Sue has found that there were more foreign people looking for jobs in a 12 month period than there were local people looking for jobs in one month, which is hardly surprising is it?

Her second failure is to compare a cumulative, stable figure with an average, changing figure. She tells us that in 2008 there were 733,090 new NINos given to migrants, the number she uses to compare against the number of JSA claimants in July 2009. This 733,090 includes everyone given an NI number between April 2007 and March 2008, many of whom, obviously, will already have found work and therefore will not be competing with the locals looking for work in July 09 – a whole two years later.

While NINo registrants will have been entering into work during that period, thereby removing themselves from the fluctuating pool of people competing for jobs, many of the JSA claimants in any given month will the same people who were claiming the month before, and, chances are, the month afterwards.

Even using her own massively flawed methodology, it’s abundantly clear that there are not more migrant workers looking for jobs than British people doing the same. Sue Reid is the blacksmith of statistics, bashing blindly away at unformed messes of data until they take on some new form, unrecognisable from the original materials.

The question is why, when migrant jobseeker numbers are actually falling, does The Mail want people to think they’re rising?

* ONS data from NOMIS.

** Update: I’m not linking to it, but Sue Reid’s “investigation” is now a fully fledged press release on the frontpage of the BNP’s website, titled “More Immigrant Jobseekers than Indigenous Brits”, copied and pasted from the original in the Mail. There couldn’t be a better argument for press responsibility.

Originally posted at MailWatch, which has a longer version.

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About the author
Jamie is a blogger. He spends an unhealthy amount of time reading newspapers he doesn't agree with and runs the satirical Daily Quail blog.
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Story Filed Under: Blog ,Economy ,Europe ,Foreign affairs ,Media

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Reader comments


These figures also assume that once you have an NI number you stay here and assumes that the number of migrant workers now is at the same level as two years ago which was pre-recession. Most numbers I’ve seen suggests they are leaving in droves. There are noticeably fewer Eastern European shop workers around where I work than there used to be, certainly.

Good work.

Was going to point out that it’s hardly likely that Sue Reid arrived at these conclusions purely by accident…but you got there in your last line.

I’m with Paul, great fisking and how terrible that it makes its transition to the BNP hate machine.

Having said that, I used to think that our press had a responsibility but as private business I don’t think they do, they need to do what sells and clearly this tat does.

There’s an excellent extract from Nick Davies’s Flat Earth News exposing the consistency with which the Mail doctors its reports to spin a falsely negative line on immigration. It’s actually very frightening. Their editorial line has always been oppositional to the BNP. But these are the very same people who manufacture the hysteria which allows the BNP to flourish.

http://www.newstatesman.com/media/2008/01/asylum-seekers-mail-report

Salman Shaheen@5 For me. also, the Daily Mail and the BNP serve the same purpose (albeit not intentional), They deflect attention away from the real villains and consequently the real problems, There is a long history of social groups becoming singled-out when the economy becomes unstable. I remember in the 1990s, The Mail focussing on single mothers. And, of course, there is the long and dreadful history of different countries scapegoating Jews, the propaganda being perpetuated by.the media.

As I’ve long argued, statistics are best left in the hands who understand them. take John Prescott “sitting on the terrace listing figures” video. “Cancer deaths are down 16% – oh isn’t the NHS wonderful”, all given without any context on the stats. I don’t know whether 16% reduction is excellent comapred to other countries, poor or fairly average. I suspect this wasn’t a deliberate omission or attempt to mislead from Prescott. He, like this Mail journalist, just doesn’t understand stats.

His use of stats was in the context of Hannan’s ward, seems pretty clear to me…

And nothing can take away how bad the Daily Fail is as a newspaper.

What has not been considered is that in the period of 1995-2007 there does not appear to have been such a percentage increase in construction worker’s wages as there was in the late 80s boom. The low inflation has been in part because wages have not risen dramatically for many people. What needs to be addressed is has immigration reduced the rate of growth in wages for many people? I think I can remember H McRae of the Indy writing an article on this subject.

The ability of many workers to increase their wages is based upon the demand for their labour. I cannot see how immigration would have increased British workers’ incomes, especially in the construction industry where good or fluent English is not essential to employment. As the construction industry is cyclic; high wages are often needed to enable a reasonable standard of living due the periods of recesssion or low growth when workers are unemployed or receiving low incomes.

I don’t buy that hypothesis, it relies on too many vagaries and assumptions.

11. Daniel Hoffman- Gill. I agree it is not easy to assess, as the construction industry involves large amount of self employment But I have not heard of labourers earning £700/wk during the recent construction boom but such figures were being paid in the late 80s at Canary Wharf.

Again, circumstantial at best, a hypotheses, not a definate.

[9] “His use of stats was in the context of Hannan’s ward, seems pretty clear to me”

Really? So you think an improvement of 16%, given without any context or comparison whatsoever, represents a high level of improvement? (He could even have compared it to other regions around the country, to show Hannan how his South East England fared against the rest of the country)

– What if levels of improvement were higher everywhere else? That would mean the NHS was actually failing to treat people who would survive elsewhere.
– If our was the only country with cancer deaths coming down that far then we’d have pretty good cause to say the NHS is the envy of the world.
– If 16% was fairly typical then you could say that the improvements were pretty much wholly driven by the pharmaceutical companies improving their drugs, and all the NHS did was buy them.

Context is absolutely crucial, and just as the Daily Mail’s figures tells us nothing relevant, neither did Prescott’s.

Mark M:

I think you need to ask yourself, I know I am, why you’re defending fictional immigration numbers by attacking John Prescott, that speaks volumes about you and where you’re coming from on this.

I saw Prescott’s use of the data and it was clear as clear can be.

COME TOGETHER, GOODTHINKFUL PEOPLE!

It is outrageous that so many parts of our great nation of Britain remain unvibrant and unenriched by wonderful people like Eritreans, Kurds, Roma, Somalis and Congolese.

Please lets all join hands and write to Postman Pat at the Home Office and tell him:

LACKING IN SUFFICIENT DIVERSITY, BRITAIN NEEDS TWO MILLION IMMIGRANTS FROM BACKWARD AND DISEASE-RIDDEN THIRD WORLD COUNTRIES AT ONCE!

There! That’ll show the BNP and those dreadful horrid people at the ‘Daily Mail’ how much we love our fellow-humans, no matter how illiterate and savage and HIV-positive they are!

Blinkstein, how about you fuck off you daft racist?

Cheers.

OH MY! CALLED A “DAFT RACIST” ON THIS SITE!

BOO HOO!

So, Daniel, tell us – in your unimitable Olympian manner – just how many more unskilled and semi-literate Somalis and Congolese and Eritreans and Albanians and other delightful Third Worlders this already-packed-to-the-doors country needs.

A million or ten million?

More?

Postman Pat at the Home Office looks forward to the happy day when the U.K. has a population of 70 million.

Do you?

Y

The premise of your idea is not only flawed and fictional but I don’t argue hypotheticals with racists, otherwise it is as if their racist ideas are actually based in reality.

Ta ta.

Yo, Daniel!

Yapping the tiresome word ‘racist’ is no way to win any sort of argument based on simple facts.

Postman Pat talks of a population of 70 million in the UK in the future, right?

Will the New Britons all be white Swedes with skills and nice manners or will they be the dregs of Goma and Moggie-Dishu and ghastly places like that?

Fair question, I think.

How many more Third Worlders can the UK admit?

Nah blood, you chatting serious shit, when you’re bringing facts to the table and not bigoted bullshit then I’ll battle, until then fuckface!

See 16 and 18 and 20 and 21 above …

Simple question, really

How many more newcomers ?

Up to 70 million of us here in total and then we stop and lock the door?

Or what sort of immigration policy is advocated?

Pick a number!

Try to be honest and truthful!

No sane person desires the immigration of Somalis

Bink

‘No sane person desires the immigration of Somalis’

You really are an idiot aren’t you. Noone desires the immigration of any Somali hey-

well I think the people employed by, contracting with or supplying to these businesses might

http://www.dmu.ac.uk/faculties/business_and_law/news/somali_business.jsp

But then again the fact that the British have benefitted amazingly from the waves of immigration since the second world war and before it (the Somalis are actually one of the oldest immigrant communities in the UK) wouldn’t get into your stupid head would it?

Go away and learn something about the issues you pontificate so amazingly and wittily about, you dumb prat.

Anon has it down you daft racist and I’m afraid your argument has no basis in reality, so you invent a position and then defend it.

Poor, sad racist bastard.


Reactions: Twitter, blogs
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