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Migrants still not earning as much at work


Professor Alan Barrett Research Professor at the ESRI

Professor Alan Barrett Research Professor at the ESRI

Professor Alan Barrett Research Professor at the ESRI

THE wage gap between migrant and native workers fell only slightly during the economic crisis, a leading expert has said.

Professor Alan Barrett of the Economic and Social Research Institute said the gap stood at 10pc in 2006 and had decreased marginally by 2009.



At an international conference in Dublin yesterday, Mr Barrett highlighted the fact that salaries between better paid natives and immigrants should "converge over time".

But there was only a "small rate of closure" between pre- and post-boom Ireland.

In addition, the country's unemployed foreign nationals are less likely to be receiving social welfare benefits than their native counterparts, the conference on migration heard.

There was a surge in the number of immigrants signing on for job-seekers benefit at the start of the economic crisis.

However, rate of growth then tapered off.

Mr Barrett said this indicated that at a certain point during the downturn immigrants stopped being given unemployment benefits, even though they were entitled to them.

"When the more discretionary element of the system kicked in, things changed a bit."

Mr Barrett pointed to the centre of interest test used by the Department of Social Welfare when assessing an individual's entitlement to the dole.

He said the test "provides a degree of discretion" when making the decision.



The recession's toll on jobs has been far greater for immigrants.

The number of non-natives in work fell by 20pc between 2008 and 2009, while the figure for Irish people was 7pc.

Some 30pc of the Irish labour force has third-level qualifications, whereas the proportion for immigrants is more than 40pc.