There is perhaps no public policy issue that has more misinformation around it than immigration. Because immigrants (except for naturalized citizens) can’t vote, they make for a favorite political scapegoat for a stagnant economy, meager job creation, and slow wage growth.
Immigrants and Economic Growth
In the new Learn Liberty video below, Texas Tech Professor Ben Powell explains that none of these misconceptions are true. He highlights how there is an economic consensus (an extraordinarily rare feat in the economics profession) that immigration is good for the economy.
Immigrants’ contributions to the economy are a major reason why the fastest growing and most vibrant economies in the country are the ones with the biggest influx of immigrants.
Immigrants and Our Jobs
Powell also explains that the misconception that immigrants steal jobs is a classic case of the “seen and the unseen.” It’s easy to see when an American worker loses out on a job opportunity taken by an immigrant. But what is unseen is that immigrants create many more other jobs for existing Americans.
Just as the entrance of women into the workforce in the latter half of the 20th century didn’t increase unemployment, the increase of immigrants doesn’t leave us fighting for work.
Immigrants and Wages
Finally, says Prof. Powell, on the whole, immigrants do not depress wages of existing Americans. While it’s possible that immigrants cause wage depression for the tiny section of the U.S. workforce with the least skills, immigrants increase wages for everyone else because they contribute to a growing economy and GDP. In fact, in the real world, it seems as though just the opposite is true: The areas of the country with the fewest immigrants are experiencing the most wage stagnation, and the areas of the country with the most immigration are experiencing the fastest wage growth.
Policymakers wanting to improve their economies should remember these points the next time they look for someone to blame.