Immigrants and Jobs

Ashtabula County: Pay attention to this article on immigration article.

Two recent studies question the narrative that immigrants strain local economies and take jobs from native-born workers.

A study commissioned by the Daily Yonder found a correlation between immigrant populations and economic health in rural counties. Rural counties with the lowest immigrant population had a per capita market income of $23,326 while that number was $29,538 for counties with the highest share of immigrants. High-immigrant counties also had a poverty rate 3.3 percent lower than counties with the fewest immigrants. Additionally, unemployment was found to be 0.8 percent lower in high-immigrant, rural counties.

The author admits that the study doesn’t prove that immigrants are causing these economic gains, noting that the relationship could be inverse, i.e. immigrants move to counties with more opportunities. According to Dan Lichter of the Cornell Population Center, it’s probably a two-way relationship.

“Immigrants are moving to areas that are economically vital,” said Lichter.  “They move there because there are jobs, and because they go there, it creates employment opportunities for others. They buy things, they use services, they need housing, they are consumers, and that’s good for local economies.”

A working paper from Indiana University and the University of Virginia found that for every new immigrant in a community, 1.2 jobs are created in non-tradable industries (industries that produce goods or services that must be tendered domestically, i.e. hospitality, retail, construction, etc.) (The Atlantic). However, immigration’s effect on tradable industries such as manufacturing and engineering is less clear and may lower wages in these professions. The study does not completely dispel the notion that immigrants can cause increased competition for certain jobs.

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