Immigrants and the Labor Market Debate in the United States

In the recent presidential election debate, one of the major contentious issues was the immigration. Currently, a discussion on the impact of immigrants on the United States labor market continues to attract public attention. Since Donald J Trump was elected as the president of the United States, the immigration reforms, including the deportation of undocumented immigrants, have been reconsidered. The opinions on their comprehensiveness differ. On the one hand, it is believed that the immigrants have positively impacted the U.S. labor market and have led to substantive positive economic growth. On the other hand, it is argued that immigrants have negatively impacted the U.S. labor market. Therefore, the country should not accept them. Timothy Kane in “Do Immigrants Drive down Wages?” and DW Gibson in “What if the United States Really Deport 11 Million People?” express their opinions regarding the controversy of the immigration issue. According to both authors, immigrants have positively contributed to the growth of the U.S. labor market. In this paper, we support the view that immigrants have brought positive changes to the U.S. labor market because they have increased the workforce and wages thereby leading to the economic growth.

Timothy Kane analyzes the impact of U.S. immigrants on the labor market. The author addresses the misconception that millions of immigrants have a harmful effect on the U.S. economy. Firstly, they reduce wages. Secondly, they hurt the U.S. jobs while competing for the already limited vacancies in the country. Kane deplores the economic theory that when “labor supply rises, wages fall.” Consequently, due to this misguided theory, many economic analysts in the U.S. wrongly believe that immigrants drive wages down. In order to substantiate his argument, Kane applies the economic logic, general equilibrium, and partial equilibrium analysis to clearly explain that immigrants, contrary to popular opinion supported by the Donald Trump’s administration, have a positive impact on the labor market.

Similarly, an article by DW Gibson discusses the role of undocumented immigrants on the U.S. labor force. According to the author, illegal immigrants compose a large part of the U.S. workforce. He states that their deportation would greatly affect the U.S. economy. Gibson’s article (2016) center on the plight of a 29-year-old Mexican worker named Barnabe. He is an illegal immigrant who works hard, pays taxes, and follows the rules. However, due to the promises of Donald Trump that undocumented immigrant would be deported if he became the president, Barnabe worries about his future and the future of the U.S. economy.

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The immigrants and the U.S. labor force have been a subject of heated debate for many years. The tension intensified when Barack Obama’s administration proposed a new immigration reform that required all undocumented immigrants to be legalized as the U.S. citizens. The issue caused a major confrontation between the candidates of the presidential election of 2016. Trump continues to claim vigorously that immigrants do not bring any benefits for the U.S. economy, and thus no more immigrants should be allowed. Moreover, the undocumented immigrants should be deported. His claims have caused sharp division in the public opinion. As a response, profound research has been conducted in order to evaluate the impact of immigrants on the U.S. economy. Trump’s administration has brought new suggestions on how to deal with immigration crisis: building of Mexican wall, banning immigrants who come from Islamic states, and deporting of undocumented immigrants in U.S. (Saul). Furthermore, Bret Stephens argues that mass deportation will save the U.S. economy since the majority of illegal immigrants are not working hard hurting the prosperity of the United States. However, there is a strong view supported by empirical evidence that immigrants do promote the U.S. economic growth.

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First, the immigrants provoked the creation of new jobs. Contrary to the popular belief, research shows that since the influx of immigrants, more labor opportunities have been created. For instance, Kane writes that “immigrants increase labor supply and demands for goods (and labor).” This shows that the number of immigrants and the number of new jobs has a direct correlation. Therefore, immigrants do not steal vacancies from the native citizens.

Gibson also questions the nature of grudge against the immigrants. He notices that “undocumented immigrants are both the economic and cultural lifeblood of places like Middletown all over the country” (Gibson). Barnabe confirms that the immigrants accept the vacancies that have been neglected by the native citizens, such as garbage collectors, farm attendants, and other “physically grueling nonunion low-wage paying jobs” (Gibson). In fact, work that requires basic skills and education has been left for the immigrants who constitute the large part of the uneducated population in the United States. Even though other studies confirm that the increased number of immigrants have a negative impact on the native low-skilled workers, they cannot diminish a significant contribution of immigrants to the development of labor.

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Secondly, the immigrants have been leading to the positive wage growth in the U.S. labor market. The misconception of immigrants’ harmful influence on wages is a simple misinterpretation of economic theory that suggests that when labor supply rises, there is a correspondence fall in wage. Kane argues that “the problem with this kind of approach is that it ignores the dynamic nature of U.S. economy” (Kane). This assumption derives from the partial equilibrium analysis of labor market that does not take into consideration the demands for labor. However, Bret Stephens’ conclusion that immigrants negatively affect labor market is not based on any empirical evidence. The author does not consider the role that immigrants play in the low-skilled labor force.

Gibson’s article clearly shows that increasing migration has changed the U.S. wages, especially in the agricultural sector. He writes that “the vast majority of the agricultural workforce in the area is made up of immigrants.” Moreover, due to the fact that more agricultural factories employ low-skilled workers, the productivity of agriculture has boosted at a relatively cheap cost (Brugger). The improvements allow to rise the wages. According to Gibson and Kane, the poor growth of wages relates to poor immigration policies that do not offer adequate justice and security. For instance, Bernabe mentions that he is often poorly treated in business deals (Gibson).

Finally, improved productivity led to a faster wage growth. In accordance with this principle, established by famous economist Adam Smith, it is obvious that other factors will inevitably improve. Moreover, immigrants usually respond to the demands of modern labor market mastering required skills for high productivity. Kane writes, “Immigration tends to complement native skills level” which means that current diversity of skills witnessed in sectors can be attributed to the immigrants.

In conclusion, the authors prove that the immigrants have positively impacted the U.S. labor market contrary to growing popular belief supported by Trump’s administration. The nature of economic growth is dynamic and requires proper analysis. Timothy Kane and DW Gibson mention that immigration promotes the creation of new job opportunities, especially in agricultural and manufacturing sectors that were neglected by native citizens. Moreover, the immigrants stimulate the positive wage growth in the labor market through high productivity and supply of low-skilled workers. Consequently, improved productivity makes wage growth fast. In this regard, the immigrants are important for the U.S. economy. However, we still need to work and cooperate in order to offer comprehensive immigration reforms.

 

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