Fairfax Media analysis of the Bureau of Statistics jobs data reveals that, comparing the six months to April with the same months two years earlier, Australia gained just 131, 000 full-time jobs - one new full-time job for every five new people.
But, in net terms, people born overseas gained 97, 000 more full-time jobs, while Australian-born people gained only 34, 000. The economy created only one new full-time job for every 10 more Australian-born people aged 15 and over.
The figures raise doubts about employers' claims that they must hire workers from overseas because Australians are not available to do the jobs.
Rather, they suggest that the record inflow of skilled migrants - both permanent and temporary - into a weak labour market is taking jobs that would otherwise have gone to people who are already here.
In April alone, overseas-born people who had arrived in Australia since the start of 2011 held 174, 000 full-time jobs. That is more than the total number of full-time jobs created in that time.
The contrast was most acute in Victoria, where the new arrivals gained 41, 400 full-time jobs at a time when full-time jobs were shrinking.
Despite two years of weak jobs growth, in which almost 100, 000 more people have become unemployed and a similar number have dropped out of the workforce, the federal government is maintaining its skilled migration program at close to record levels.
Immigration Minister Brendan O'Connor announced last month that Australia will aim to recruit 128, 550 skilled migrants in 2013-14, only 700 fewer than the current level.
By Tim Colebatch
June 15, 2013