The Impact of Immigration on Wages

handing a dollar sign, immigrationSome politicians allege that immigration in Illinois depresses wages, but multiple studies have found that it either has no effect or a positive impact on wages. Immigration also positively affects the economy at large because immigrants spend money, start businesses, pay taxes and hire employees, helping to spur growth. Despite this, some politicians claim that an influx of immigrant workers depresses wages for different subsets of the population, but their assertions are not borne up by research. An immigration lawyer helps businesses secure employment visas for the workers that they need so that they can fill available positions.

Effect of Immigration on Low-wage Workers

Immigration opponents and the current administration rely on a study conducted by Harvard University economist George Borjas to bolster their claims that immigration depresses wages for low-wage workers. The study looked at the influx of migrants into Miami in 1980 from Cuba, when 125,000 low-skilled immigrants flooded Miami’s labor market, raising it by 10 percent. The wages of low-skilled workers in Miami decreased from 10 to 30 percent. However, other research has belied the findings in that study, and it is an outlier. Critics of the study point out that there were multiple problems with how it was conducted and that other factors that weren’t controlled for contributed to the depressed wages.

Multiple studies have instead found that an influx of low-skilled immigrants has no effect on the wages of low-skilled U.S. workers. A literature review of 63 other studies conducted by a researcher at the University of California, Berkeley found that Borjas’s study was an outlier and that the other research has demonstrated either a slight positive impact or none at all.

Effect of Immigration on Highly-Skilled Workers

A recent study that was conducted by a professor of geography at the University of Buffalo reviewed 18 years of employment data, focusing on the diversity of workers in different fields. The researcher found that having greater diversity with people coming from many different countries and regions in addition to the U.S. increased overall wages for highly skilled workers. She found that this effect held even though foreign-born workers generally earned less than their U.S. counterparts because they tended to work in different positions than the U.S. workers did. No matter what the outcome of the immigration debate might be, an immigration lawyer may help businesses to secure the workers that they need through business immigration.