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Research which was released this week by the Federal Reserve Bank of San Francisco has concluded that immigrant workers assist in helping to helps grow the economy and increase wages up for all workers. It’s the latest in a growing body of economic research showing that immigration offers a net gain to the U.S Economy.
The Effect of Immigrants on U.S. Employment and Productivity
The effects of immigration on the total output and income of the U.S. economy can be studied by comparing output per worker and employment in states that have had large immigrant inflows with data from states that have few new foreign-born workers.Statistical analysis of state-level data shows that immigrants expand the economy's productive capacity by stimulating investment and promoting specialization. This produces efficiency gains and boosts income per worker. At the same time, evidence is scant that immigrants diminish the employment opportunities of U.S.-born workers.
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First, there is no evidence that immigrants crowd out U.S.-born workers in either the short or long run. Data on U.S.-born worker employment imply small effects, with estimates never statistically different from zero. The impact on hours per worker is similar. We observe insignificant effects in the short run and a small but significant positive effect in the long run. At the same time, immigration reduces somewhat the skill intensity of workers in the short and long run because immigrants have a slightly lower average education level than U.S.-born workers.
Second, the positive long-run effect on income per U.S.-born worker accrues over some time. In the short run, small insignificant effects are observed. Over the long run, however, a net inflow of immigrants equal to 1% of employment increases income per worker by 0.6% to 0.9%. This implies that total immigration to the United States from 1990 to 2007 was associated with a 6.6% to 9.9% increase in real income per worker. That equals an increase of about $5,100 in the yearly income of the average U.S. worker in constant 2005 dollars. Such a gain equals 20% to 25% of the total real increase in average yearly income per worker registered in the United States between 1990 and 2007.
The third result is that the long-run increase in income per worker associated with immigrants is mainly due to increases in the efficiency and productivity of state economies. This effect becomes apparent in the medium to long run. Such a gradual response of productivity is accompanied by a gradual response of capital intensity. While in the short run, physical capital per unit of output is decreased by net immigration, in the medium to long run, businesses expand their equipment and physical plant proportionally to their increase in production.
By Giovanni Peri
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The 77 million people that make up the US small business workforce would rank as the 17th most populous country in the world, just ahead of Iran;
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