One of the more annoying arguments in the immigration debate is that undocumented immigrants coming to this country take jobs away and have a negative effect on the economy. These recurring arguments make terrific sound bites and usually appeal to the emotional and uninformed voter, especially during hard economic times. And yet these are the false viewpoints that still guide today’s immigration policy debate.
Over the years there have been numerous studies which debunk these false narratives. Here’s another by the Urban Institute.
In short, this study and others demonstrate that immigrants help to fill gaps in our labor market, immigrants complement rather than replace existing workers, and increase, not lower, wages and productivity.
The Urban Institute’s study again helps to quash the notion that immigrants are “stealing” American jobs. In fact, as the study points out, many low skilled immigrants and native workers aren’t competing for the same jobs. If this isn’t enough evidence, a recent study by PEW suggests that immigrants are “much more likely than U.S. foreign workers to be self-employed.” From a Latino perspective, immigrants were nearly twice as likely as U.S. born Latinos to be self-employed. So in other words, the PEW study suggests that immigrants are in fact job creators (aka entrepreneurs) not job takers!
So don’t fall into believing this overused false narrative.
And while it seems that immigration reform won’t happen anytime soon, when it does, let’s hope it’s developed based on facts – not fiction.
Pew Hispanic Research reports that the U.S. born Latinos now account for the majority of Latino workers in the United States. The trend is expected to continue for a number of reasons:
It is likely that the share of the Latino workforce that is U.S. born will continue to increase. The U.S. born currently account for most of the growth in the Latino population, and it is uncertain that Latino migrants will return to the U.S. workforce in larger numbers. Some leading economists are of the view that the U.S. has entered a new era of slower economic growth. If so, jobs growth in the future may not be strong enough to reinvigorate immigration from Latin America. The future direction of U.S. immigration policy is also unknown. Finally, demographers have noted that sharp declines in birth rates in Mexico and other Latin American countries may ease the pressure to emigrate to the U.S. in the longer run.
While the talent (knowledge) economy continues to heat up, there’s an inherent risk associated with the wage and workforce gap that’s being created – so says Roger Martin in his article “The Rise and Likely Fall of the Talent Economy:”
Little of the value created by this well-compensated class is trickling down to the general population. “Real wages for the 62% of the U.S. workforce classified as production and nonsupervisory workers have declined since the mid-1970s.” Nor is the situation better for investors. “Across the economy, the return on invested capital, which had been stable for the prior 10 years at about 5%, peaked in 1979 and has been on a steady decline ever since. It is currently below 2% and still dropping, as the minders of that capital, whether corporate executives or investment managers, extract ever more for their services.”
Andrés Tapia does a wonderful job of describing how the concept of diversity and inclusion must evolve beyond Diversity 1.0. Indeed, these terms have outlived their original intent and have become multidimensional. Enjoy!
This is a great piece by The Atlantic regarding race, gender, and the workforce. An interesting comparison of participation rate of Latinos, women, and other demographic groups. The disparities among Latinos and African Americans can still be attributed to one underlying issue, education:
Blacks and Hispanics, who make up about one-quarter of the workforce, represent 44 percent of the country’s high school dropouts and just 15 percent of its bachelor’s earners. Until we can close the difference between those numbers, it’s unlikely that the workforce’s unyielding racial stratification will improve.