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Experiment Finds Immigrants Apply for Low-Income Jobs Much More Than Natives

A British newspaper tested the theory that immigrants are hungrier for work than native citizens, to interesting results.

A common refrain among anti-immigration activists is that immigrants are "taking our jobs." While it is true that millions of American citizens are struggling with joblessness while many illegal immigrants are gainfully employed, a new study out of England helps make sense of why that may be.

Journalists at the U.K. paper the Daily Mail created 10 fictitious job descriptions and advertised them online, in newspapers, and in shop windows around Britain. When people applied to the jobs, the reporters fessed up about their ruse and asked the applicants where they were from. The journalists' ethics are questionable, but what they discovered was interesting: Despite the fact that the U.K., like America, is in the grips of an awful recession, more immigrants applied to the jobs than native Brits—sometimes by huge margins.

For a full-time dishwashing job in Manchester, 25 immigrants applied and only 17 English people. For a warehouse worker position that purportedly paid £6.50 an hour, 19 immigrants applied and only nine English people. Most striking was a house-cleaning job that paid £10 per hour. While 217 immigrants applied for that position, only 17 Brits did the same.

There were jobs posted that got more Brits to apply than immigrants, but it was never by much. A bartending job, for instance, garnered 24 British applications and 20 immigrant applications.

Immigration reform is a very complex issue, but this study should give pause to those who argue that it's as simple as "Immigrants want to work hard and native citizens do not." After all, you won't get a job if you didn't choose to apply.

Photo via (cc) Flickr user soukup

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