Mark Carney said yesterday, "In recent years labour supply has expanded significantly owing to higher participation rates among older workers, a greater willingness to work longer hours and strong population growth, partly driven by higher net migration. . . These positive labour supply shocks have contained wage growth in the face of robust employment growth. Wages have grown by around 2 per cent in the past year - less than half the average rate before the global financial crisis - and a key risk is that these subdued growth rates continue."
This should come as no surprise to anyone who has ever thought for more than a couple of minutes about the effect of migration. If you provide more of something, the price tends to go down. Specifically, if foreign workers are arriving in the UK at a rate of about 250,000 per year (for this is the current rate of increase), employers are less likely to have to compete for staff by raising wages.
And to be clear, the general point that an influx of workers from abroad represents a weight on the pay of the indigenous population is a statement of the overwhelmingly obvious: it is simply a version of the law of supply and demand that the price of anything falls when supply rises relative to demand.
I should confess that I lifted that last paragraph from Robert Peston's piece today on the BBC website.
For me the truly perplexing thing is why so many on the Left are still so keen on open borders. As the pay of people at the bottom end languishes, so the gap between high and low pay widens. It's called inequality. But the Left is against this too, and for them the two realities grate against one another with a kind of political dissonance which induces denial, anger and - all too readily - name calling of people who point it out.
If you really want to make yourself unpopular, draw attention to the fact that British people trapped in low wages tend to have brown skins. They're the children and grandchildren of former generations of immigrants. Because naturally no bien pensant likes to think anyone on the Centre Right might actually be occupying the moral high ground on the subject of race.
To be fair, it's not all bad news. European immigrants are often better educated, better motivated and more skilled than the UK residents against whom they're competing for jobs. Unlike immigrants from the Asian subcontinent they're more likely to buy into Britain's basic post-Christian ethos. By keeping wages down, they also help to keep inflation down and interest rates down, making British goods more competitive and keeping the economy ticking over.
One of the most persistent and articulate of the pro-Immigration Left wingers is a man called Jonathan Portes, head of the NIESR. Portes used to be an economic adviser to Tony Blair, which is instructive. He is bullishly in favour of immigration, having no truck with the argument that immigrants take jobs from British workers (many of them black). Portes' case is that immigration helps the economy grow, which is undoubtedly true. The question is how much it helps, and whether the upside outweighs the down.
I had a Twitter spat with Portes recently, in which I tried to get him to confirm that he believed 100 migrants begat 100 jobs, so there was no net loss. Portes refused to answer this question and I suspect has now blocked or muted me. The difficulty for all participants in this argument is that it's impossible to do a control test. We all fall back on theory because practical tests aren't possible.
Incidentally Jonathan Portes' response to Peston was to Tweet - "I'm afraid first few paras are wrong, both theoretically and empirically". Who'd have thought it.
Since it's most unlikely that 100 extra workers create exactly 100 extra jobs, the likelihood is that every 100 extra either takes jobs from British people or creates some extra. The first problem for Portes is that not every migrant gets work. Different communities have different profiles, but whilst most Europeans find jobs, that isn't true of other migrants; the worst-performing are Bangladeshis at only 35%; the rest are presumably on benefits.
Moreover if Portes is right, and 100 migrants create 125 jobs, for example, the number of job opportunities would be rising faster than the numbers of workers, in which case you would expect wage inflation to be much higher than the current estimate of 2%. In fact for much of the last twenty years wage growth has been sluggish or negative.
Home Office research from 2012 suggests in fact that in times of recession there's a net job loss, and that every 100 immigrants probably create only 77 jobs, meaning 23 are taken from British people. Although to some extent they support my case, I think these figures are speculative and dubious and I prefer to rely on the fall in real-terms wages, which is suggestive of an excess of supply over demand for staff.
Incidentally, you have to wonder why Portes isn't arguing for migrants to be paid to come here. After all, if migrants create more jobs than they take, it would surely be cheaper to pay for more to come and push unemployed Britons into work.
According to more reliable figures from the Bank of England, in the last eighteen years the number of European workers has quadrupled to two million, accelerating in the mid 2000s as Labour opened the door to the populations of poor East European countries. If Jonathan Portes is right, this two million strong influx has created more than two million extra jobs. Yet unemployment remains stubbornly at - as it happens - just under two million. And in real terms wages are stagnant, particularly at the bottom end.
No wonder we have a housing crisis. No wonder the health service and schools are struggling to meet extra demand. No wonder Britain is such a crowded country. We have accommodated an extra one and a half million people from Europe alone in the last eighteen years.
How did the BBC report this story? Like this. "Carney: UK productivity not harmed by foreign workers". Not sure what Robert Peston thought of that, but Mr Portes will have been pleased.