No matter what facts one presents to anti-immigrant activists and xenophobic politicians, they insist that immigration is “out of control” and that immigrants take jobs away from Americans and suppress native-born Americans’ wages. Study after study reminds us that we don’t have a finite number of jobs and that new immigrants don’t replace native-born workers, but rather, they complement them.
Anti-immigrant gadflies cling to a few studies that suggest immigrants can put a mild downward pressure on earnings for native workers with a high school education or less; that, they say, justifies mass deportation and/or severe cuts in immigration including high-skill workers. Even that conclusion has been largely disputed. (“Simple modeling and regression analysis applied to the last four decades of U.S. labor market history show that immigrants are not responsible for the stagnating or declining wages of non-college workers, either nationally or in regions with high immigration. In fact, immigrants may be responsible for preventing an even further relative decline in wages by education group.”)
Now, a new report from the Federal Reserve confirms that all those immigrants whom nativists complain about haven’t set back even the least-educated native-born workers:
During the three years between the beginning of the 2013 and 2016 surveys, real gross domestic product grew at an annual rate of 2.2 percent, the civilian unemployment rate fell from 7.5 percent to 5 percent, and the annual rate of change in the consumer price index averaged 0.8 percent. These changes in aggregate economic performance led to broad-based income gains across many different types of families. . . .
Families throughout the income distribution experienced gains in average real incomes between 2013 and 2016, reversing the trend from 2010 to 2013, when real incomes fell or remained stagnant for all but the top of the income distribution.
Income inequality continues to widen (a phenomenon that doesn’t at all concern those proposing a massive tax cut for the rich), but “families without a high school diploma and nonwhite and Hispanic families experienced larger proportional gains in incomes than other families between 2013 and 2016, although more-educated families and white non-Hispanic families continue to have higher incomes than other families.” Former “car czar” Steven Rattner observes via email, “This is yet another piece of evidence that particularly in a tight labor market, immigrants don’t take jobs or wages from Americans.”
By Jennifer Rubin for THE WASHINGTON POST
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