Immigrants in the U.S. Labor Market
Orrenius, Pia M.
Immigrants supply skills that are in relatively short supply in the U.S. labor market and account for almost half of labor force growth since the mid-1990s. Migrant inflows have been concentrated at the low and high ends of the skill distribution. Large-scale unauthorized immigration has fueled growth of the low-skill labor force, which has had modest adverse fiscal and labor market effects on taxpayers and U.S.-born workers. High-skilled immigration has been beneficial in most every way, fueling innovation and spurring entrepreneurship in the high tech sector. Highly skilled immigrants have had a positive fiscal impact, contributing more in tax payments than they use in public services. Immigration reform appears to be on the horizon, and policies such as a legalization initiative, a guest-worker program and more permanent visas for high-skilled workers would likely be an improvement over the status quo.
A discussion of recent immigration trends in the context of U.S. labor demand, as well as the effects of immigration on economic output (GDP) and the rate of economic growth. Working paper presented at the Baker Institute Latin America Initiative conference "Immigration Reform: A System for the 21st Century."