As the economy in the U.S. continues to make its way to solid ground in the wake of the financial meltdown of late 2007, economists from around the country are keeping a close eye on jobs and wage data. One particularly compelling aspect of the economic marker is immigrant influence on the numbers and the ways by which a thriving immigrant population makes the economy grow.
Economists agree that immigrants in the U.S.—both documented and undocumented—don’t threaten the jobs of those who are native-born. At the same time, providing legal status to those who are undocumented would create an additional 121,000 more jobs over the next 10 years, according to a study by the Washington College economics department reported by the Center for American Progress (CAP.)
The CAP study looked at jobs through the lens of immigration, using a number of scenarios. In each, immediate legal status was presumed for the nation’s 11 million undocumented immigrants. The granting of immediate legal status to those millions of undocumented immigrants would lead to the creation of 121,000 extra jobs annually over the next 10 years, researchers claim.
When the study looked at undocumented immigrants receiving legal status within five years, the per-year jobs increase goes to 159,000. When researchers looked at the possibility of immediate legal status along with citizenship, they calculated an additional 203,000 jobs annually.
One assumption in the study, according to reports, is that the mere condition of legalization and citizenship opens the spigot to let undocumented immigrants become more productive because they can operate with more freedom and without worry of triggering deportation threats. As earnings for the demographic increases, the researchers say, spending will likewise keep pace. “That spending, in turn, will stimulate demand in the economy for more products and services, which creates jobs and expands the economy,” the authors write.
Michael Greenstone and Adam Looney, economists at the Brookings Institution, say in a report, “on average, immigrant workers increase the opportunities and incomes of Americans.”
What’s more, though It’s well-understood that entrepreneurial immigrants who fall in the highly=skilled category create jobs, some say even low-skilled immigrants work to create job benefits for native-born workers. According to a study conducted by the Federal Reserve Bank of San Francisco, low-skilled immigrants boost productivity and stimulate investment. Pointing to states where less-educated immigrants push native-born counterparts into more communication-intensive jobs, researchers at the San Francisco Fed argue low-skilled immigrants push native-born workers into higher-paying communication jobs—jobs that are out-of-reach for immigrants where language is a barrier.