Tags: immigration | illegal | jobs | u.s. labor | market

Immigration Helping Boost Job Market

Immigration Helping Boost Job Market
Members of a caravan of 5,000 migrants outside the Mexican city of Ciudad Acuña on their journey to the USA (Marie D. De Jesús/AP)

By    |   Friday, 05 April 2024 03:45 PM EDT

U.S. employers continue to create jobs exceeding economists’ estimates, and immigration may be a major reason why.

Forecasters estimated that sustainable job growth in 2023 would be 60,000 to 130,000 a month, but with an average of 255,000 created each month, job opportunities have come in far higher. Even after 11 interest rate hikes, Friday’s report on the opening of 303,000 jobs in March continued to defy expectations.

Foreign-born workers made up 18.6% of the civilian labor force in 2023, up from 15.3% in 2006, Bureau of Labor Statistics data shows.

While major U.S. cities have been burdened with housing the 5.4 million illegals who U.S. Customs and Border Protection has logged since Joe Biden became president, economists say the assimilation of many of the immigrants into the labor market and the economy has been beneficial, Axios reports.

The influx of immigrants has not only boosted jobs but also consumer spending by 0.2 percentage points in 2023 and gross domestic product by 0.1 percentage points each year since 2022, according to economists Wendy Edelberg, director of The Hamilton Project, and Tara Watson, director of the Center for Economic Security and Opportunity, Brookings.

If immigration continues at the current rate, the two economists say, “employment growth of nearly 200,000 workers a month is consistent with a healthy, but not too hot, labor market.”

Mark Zandi, chief economist at Moody’s Analytics, concurs that the surge in foreign-born workers is largely beneficial, telling CNBC it is “taking pressure off the economy. In fact, it’s probably one reason why the economy grew so strongly last year.”

U.S. GDP grew 2.5% in 2023, beating expectations and up from 1.9% in 2022.

The argument for welcoming foreign-born workers comes at a time when the United States is gripped by contentious immigration policy debate.

In mid-February, House Republicans impeached U.S. Department of Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas, who they say subverted the law, defied court orders, and breached the public trust by allowing undocumented migrants to pour through the southern border.

New York City Mayor Eric Adams has repeatedly charged that his city has been overburdened with the “national problem” of migrants entering the United States, and has pleaded with President Biden to help cover the $12 billion cost of housing them over the next three years.

“The present migrant crisis is quite unprecedented — both in scale, in the diversity of the nationalities that are coming to the border, and the impact it’s having not only on the border states but in states and cities inside the country,” Muzaffar Chishti, senior fellow at the nonpartisan Migration Policy Institute, recently said.

In 2023, 31.1 million workers out of the U.S. total labor force of 167.1 million were foreign-born, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, with immigrants’ share of the total labor force rising since 1996, which is when BLS started collecting the data.

According to the Pew Research Center, most of the workers in the U.S. are here legally. In 2021, just 4.6% of U.S. workers were unauthorized, a figure that has remained in that “narrow range” since 2005, according to Pew.

On Capitol Hill last week, Federal Reserve Chairman Jerome Powell acknowledged the advantages of the immigrants, while trying not to sound political.

“It’s just arithmetic,” Powell told the House Financial Services Committee. “If you add a couple million people to an economy, a percentage of them work, there will be more output. I’m just reporting the facts there. I’m not going to say anything is needed for the future or good policy indirectly or directly.”

If the goal is to raise overall GDP and tax revenue, a case may be made for the integration of migrants in the economy, said Steven Camarota, director of research at the Center for Immigration Studies, which is advocating for tighter immigration controls.

“If your goal is to increase per capita GDP, that’s a very different question,” Camarota said.

There is data showing that migrants are taking jobs away from U.S.-born men without a high school diploma, at the low end of the labor market, as well as skilled laborers, on the high end.

While immigration, largely, has “zero” effect on the U.S. labor market, according to the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering and Medicine — immigrants with skills in computer software, accounting and medicine are “modestly” impacting existing citizens’ job prospects, the organization said.

Participation in the labor force among 25- to 54-year-old U.S.-born men without a high school diploma declined by 5 percentage points between 2000 and 2023, according to an analysis of Census Bureau data by the Center for Immigration Studies.

There are other factors besides immigration impacting workers’ job prospects, Camarota said: globalization, weaker unions and a stagnant federal minimum wage.

Jack Malde, senior policy analyst at the Bipartisan Policy Center, also pointed to automation and technology reducing the need for low-skilled labor, plus the move away from manufacturing to service-oriented jobs.

The bigger picture in the U.S. of fewer children being born and the aging population, is another reason some applaud the influx.

The Congressional Budget Office predicts U.S. deaths will surpass births beginning in 2040, at which time immigration will account for all population growth in the U.S.

The CBO estimates that between 2023 and 2034, the U.S. labor force will grow by 5.2 million people, largely due to “a surge in immigration” that began in 2022 under President Biden, and will, CBO says, continue through 2026. This immigration influx will increase GDP output by $7 billion and revenues by $1 trillion, CBO said.

As Evgeniya Duzhak, regional policy analyst at the Federal Reserve Bank of San Francisco, wrote in a 2023 paper: “Reopening of borders in 2022 and easing of immigration policies brought a sizable immigration rebound, which in turn helped alleviate the shortage of workers relative to job vacancies.”

Phillip Swagel, CBO director, summed up the phenomenon of illegal immigration's upsdies best at a hearing at the U.S. House of Representatives in February: “More workers mean more output, more income, and that, in turn, leads to higher revenue.”

© 2024 Newsmax Finance. All rights reserved.

U.S. employers continue to create jobs exceeding economists' estimates, and immigration may be a major reason why.
immigration, illegal, jobs, u.s. labor, market
Friday, 05 April 2024 03:45 PM
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