2003 November 07 Friday
Foreign Employment Rises In US As Native Employment Declines

The Center for Immigration Studies has an astouding new study out about how the number of foreigners employed in the US rose even as native employment declined and percentage of foreigners unemployed rose.

  • Since 2000, 2.3 million new immigrant workers (legal and illegal) have arrived in the United States almost exactly the same as the 2.2 million who arrived during the three years prior to 2000, despite dramatic change in economic conditions.
  • At the state level, there seems to be no clear relationship between economic conditions and trends in immigration. Immigration levels have matched or exceeded the pace of the late 1990s in Texas, New Jersey, Virginia, Maryland, Illinois, Arizona, Washington, North Carolina, Georgia, and New York even as all these states experienced a significant increase in unemployment.
  • Nationally, about half (1.2 million) of those who arrived in each three-year time period (1997-2000 and 2000-2003) are estimated to be illegal aliens. These figures are only for those in the workforce who were captured in Census Bureau data.
  • Looking only at the net increase in employment, the number of foreign-born adults (legal and illegal) holding a job has grown 1.7 million since 2000, while among natives the number working fell by 800,000.
  • Although the number of foreign-born adults holding a job has increased since 2000, the number unemployed also increased, by 600,000, and unemployment rose among the foreign born from 4.9 to 7.4 percent.
  • It is the very rapid growth in the foreign-born population that makes it possible for the number of immigrants holding jobs and the number unemployed to increase at the same time.

As the CIS folks point out, this makes the argument that the US economy needs these foreign workers into something of a joke.

The current economic slowdown represents a real-world test of the often-made argument that immigration is primarily driven by economic need in the United States. The fact that immigration has not slowed significantly since 2000, even though unemployment has increased significantly, indicates that immigration levels do not simply reflect demand for labor in this country. Rather, immigration is a complex process driven by a variety of factors, many of which have little to do with prevailing economic conditions in the United States. The idea that record levels of immigration in the 1990s were caused by a strong economy is a gross oversimplification and perhaps not even very helpful in understanding immigration.

Poor foreigners come here because they make less in their home countries, are willing to work for less than the native born Americans, and because they want the better welfare and medical benefits they can get here that the rest of us pay for. Businesses want the cheaper labor. Democratic Party politicians want them because when the immigrants (especially the less skiled ones) become citizens the vast majority will vote Democrat. Ideological big "L" Libertarians want them because the big "L" Libertarians are running a really defective model in their minds of human nature and think everyone else would think like they do if only they could be made to understand. Never mind the empirical evidence that massive amounts of unskilled immigration lead to bigger government. Ideology trumps evidence when one is a firm believer. Still others are sold on the beautiful myth that immigration of all kinds helped make America great and would just as soon not take off their rose-colored glasses and look closely at the ugly details.

Share |      By Randall Parker at 2003 November 07 03:48 PM  Immigration Economics


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