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Just what is the economic impact of immigration on US workers? Likely good for wages and good for jobs. The WaPo’s Dylan Matthews outlines some of the research on wages. And, of course, the research tells two different stories. Research that finds immigration raises wages assumes immigrants generally a) don’t do the same jobs as US workers, b) perform work that is complementary to that of US workers:
A 2010 white paper by Gianmarco Ottaviano, Giovanni Peri and Greg Wright found that less expensive immigrant labor has a “positive net effect on native employment.” In another paper, Peri found that U.S. immigration from 1990 to 2006 increased real wages by 2.86 percent. Put together, Peri’s research forms the strongest basis for arguing that immigration increases wages for native-born American workers. Patricia Cortes at Unviersity of Chicago has confirmed his findings …
But research that assumes immigrant labor substitutes for native labor is gloomier:
George Borjas and Lawrence Katz, two Harvard labor economists who tend to be more skeptical of the benefits from immigration, beg to differ. Between 1980 and 2000, U.S. workers saw their wages fall in the short-run by 3.4 percent due to immigration. In the long-run, the economy adjusts such that the overall effect is minimal, but the short term figures are still a cause for concern.
And what about jobs? A 2011 study from AEI and a Partnership For A New American Economy finds the following:
1. Immigrants with advanced degrees boost employment for US natives. This effect is most dramatic for immigrants with advanced degrees from US universities working in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) fields. The data comparing employment among the fifty states and the District of Columbia show that from 2000 to 2007, an additional 100 foreign-born workers in STEM fields with advanced degrees from US universities is associated with an additional 262 jobs among US natives. While the effect is biggest for US-educated immigrants working in STEM, immigrants with advanced degrees in general raised employment among US natives during 2000–2007:
2. Temporary foreign workers—both skilled and less skilled—boost US employment. The data show that states with greater numbers of temporary workers in the H-1B program for skilled workers and H-2B program for less-skilled nonagricultural workers had higher employment among US natives. Specifically:
• Adding 100 H-1B workers results in an additional 183 jobs among US natives.
• Adding 100 H-2B workers results in an additional 464 jobs for US natives.
• For H-2A visas for less-skilled agricultural workers, the study found results that were positive, but data were available for such a short period that the results were not statistically significant.
3. The analysis yields no evidence that foreignborn workers, taken in the aggregate, hurt US employment. Even under the current immigration pattern—which is not designed to maximize job creation, has at least eight million unauthorized workers, and prioritizes family reunification—there is no statistically significant effect, either positive or negative, on the employment rate among US natives. The results thus do not indicate that immigration leads to fewer jobs for US natives.
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