Immigration: Do Immigrants Steal Our Jobs?

Release Date
May 21, 2016


Immigration Politics & Policy

Do Immigrants really steal our Jobs? Join Professor Ben Powell as he explains the top 3 myths about immigration. Let us know what you think in the comments below! 

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>> The next myth is that they steal our jobs. There’s absolutely no evidence for this. I’m Ben Powell, Professor of Economics in Suffolk University. And I wanna explode three popular myths about immigration. Immigration is a contentious issue but unfortunately, a lot of the public debate is centered on the wrong things.
These three myths are that immigrants are a net drag on our economy, that they steal our jobs, and that they depress our wages. None of these are true. Immigrants are a net benefit to the economy. Economists who study immigration, even economists who are otherwise critical of immigration, are in almost universal agreement of this.
They don’t think the net economic benefit’s huge, but all agree that it’s positive. The next myth is that they steal our jobs. There’s absolutely no evidence for this. This is a fallacy of the seen and the unseen. When an immigrant comes in, it’s obvious when we see an American worker who loses his job.
But what we don’t see is that another job is created for that American. That’s why, over time, we don’t find a net increase in unemployment as immigrants come in. Think about what’s happened to the workforce in the last 60 years. Massive entry of baby boomers, women, and immigrants into the workforce.
But yet, no increase in long-term unemployment. You still have business cycles and fluctuations in unemployment, but no long-term increase. Instead we see, as the labor force increases, so does total employment. That brings us to wages. So we add more workers to the workforce, must that depress US wages?
Again, we don’t find much evidence of this. In fact, the only wage depression that economist find is when you look at just people without a high school diploma in the United States. And even there the negative effects on their wages is very small. And the reason is, immigrant labor is different than the domestic labor.
They bring a different skill set. So, often immigrants who come are either very highly skilled or very low skilled. A lot of US labor is somewhere in the middle. Moderately skilled, but very few of us are at the top of a pyramid, and very few of us are at the bottom.
The result is, when immigrants come, they largely compliment our talents, they don’t substitute for us. It frees American labor can do things that American labor is better suited to do. As a result, we become more productive and they become more productive. Whatever your position was on immigration before, if one of these three myths was holding you back, it should push you more on the margin to wanting more open boarders, not less.