By Adriana Belmonte, Yahoo Finance
As the U.S. finds itself entangled in a debate over immigration, research indicates that there are plenty of economic benefits of immigration for the American workforce.
In a policy brief for the Migration Policy Institute, Georgetown University professor Harry Holzer detailed the three major shifts that the U.S. labor market will face over the next few decades — an aging workforce, automation and alternative staffing — and argued that “increased immigration can provide many benefits to the U.S. economy.”
- Immigration could help employers hire for hard-to-fill positions.
- Immigration could reduce the costs and increase the availability of goods and services, especially in growing sectors such as health and elder care.
- While immigration may benefit employers and workers with complementary skills, particularly at the high end of the skills spectrum, it can negatively affect some low-skilled workers who have already been hard hit by technological change, globalization and weakening labor unions.
- Reforms of immigration policy to support economic growth should thus be paired with a broader agenda and investments to raise the skills and earnings of workers without college degrees, whether native born or immigrant.
A Penn Wharton Budget Model (PWBM) policy paper had similar findings, indicating that “the largest positive impact on employment would come from increasing the net flow of immigrants.”
- Shifting the mix of legal immigrants toward college graduates would have little effect on employment and slightly increase GDP.
- Legalization of undocumented workers would slightly reduce employment and have a negligible effect on GDP.
- Increasing deportations would substantially reduce both employment and GDP.
- The largest positive impact on employment and GDP would come from increasing the net flow of immigrants.
The new research comes as lawmakers struggle to find a solution that satisfies all parties while the Trump administration carries out its hardline immigration policies. A June Gallup poll found that 23% of Americans see immigration as the main issue in the country. That poll also indicated that 76% of people view immigration as a good thing in the country and that 43% of Americans think that immigrants are making the overall U.S. economy better.
“From an economic standpoint,” Wharton assistant professor Exequiel Hernandez said, “the research evidence is pretty clear in showing that what’s best for the U.S. economy is to have more immigration.”