What Immigration Means For U.S. Employment and WagesMon, 05/07/2012 - 13:35 — admin
May 4, 2012
While employment continued to rise, today’s employment report suggests that the pace of job growth slowed. Employer payrolls increased only by 115,000 jobs, following a gain of 154,000 last month and average increases of 252,000 per month in the three prior months. At last month’s pace of job growth, increases in employment are roughly keeping up with increases in new labor market entrants and the unemployment rate was little changed at 8.1 percent.
U.S. immigration policy continues to be a key issue of debate among federal and state policymakers alike. In that debate, one area of disagreement has been the impact of immigration on the U.S. labor force and the wages of American workers—particularly during today’s difficult economic times. In fact, because of the weak labor market immigration flows have changed dramatically since the start of the Great Recession—the undocumented population has declined (Passel and Cohn 2010; DHS 2012), and the number of high-skilled H-1B visas being issued was down by over 25 percent in 2010 from a 2001 peak (US State Department). As the economy continues to recover, however, it is likely that demand for immigrant labor by American businesses and the desire of immigrants to work in the United States will continue to rise. The ability of our immigration system to respond to these demands remains an important economic policy issue, both in the short term and for our country’s long-term growth strategy.
In this month’s employment analysis, we discuss the economic evidence on what immigration means for U.S. jobs and the economy in advance of The Hamilton Project’s May 15th immigration forum in Washington, DC. We also continue to update our analysis of the “jobs gap,” or the number of jobs that the U.S. economy needs to create in order to return to pre-recession employment levels, releasing an exciting new interactive feature that allows readers to calculate when the country will close the jobs gap at different rates of job creation.