In fact, when immigration has been strong, the unemployment rate has been low – the share of people in the workforce who don’t have the stability and the sense of purpose, belonging, contribution and independence that all comes with a job has been small. Between 1982 and 2002, our immigration program was relatively weak averaging 95,851 thousand net overseas immigrants per annum, while unemployment averaged around eight per cent.
Since then, immigration has been strong, averaging 203,824 thousand people (net) per annum, and has been a key ingredient behind unemployment averaging 5.5 per cent.
Success and enrichment from strong immigration is not automatic. In fact, if not managed and responded to adequately and appropriately, it can represent a source of social and political instability. The miserable situations in which the US and UK find themselves are sobering examples of how a fractured society – no matter how wealthy and powerful – is ill-equipped to respond to a crisis.
Proper management of immigration ensures that both newcomers and well-established residents can participate meaningfully in our social, civic and economic life – they can live affordably with adequate and appropriate amenity, nearby to jobs and community.