The Way Immigration has effected the United States economy

Scholars have been trying to identify whether immigration has a negative impact on the employment of native workers or whether it takes up an important economic role. This essay argues that immigration has indeed negatively affected the wage rate and unemployment opportunities of U.S.-born or native workers. In order to fulfill the essay’s objective, several important themes are taken into account. The first theme is about the historical development of the U.S. immigration policy. This historical analysis will demonstrate how the dramatic increase in immigration, spurred by changes in the immigration policy of the country, eventually affected the employment opportunities and earnings of native workers. The second theme is about the immigration debate. In order to understand the precise nature of the impact of immigration on the labor market, it is important to identify the strengths and weaknesses of the arguments of pro- and anti-immigration groups. The third theme tackles concrete proofs that the economic benefits of immigrations have been negligible. The last theme focuses on the rise in the unemployment rates of least skilled and unskilled native workers due to immigration. Historical Background The dramatic growth in immigration recently may be due partly to modifications in the immigration policy of the United States. The Immigration Act of 1965 was a decisive moment in the historical development of the immigration policy of the country. The clearest impact of the changes brought about by that policy has been a dramatic growth in the population of foreign-born individuals. These immigrants are younger than the U.S.-born individuals and are comprised of more males than females (Briggs 1996, 372). Moreover, according to the U.S. Department of Labor (1995), immigrants made up 10.8% of the total number of workers in 1994 (Briggs 1996, 372). Another issue is that immigrants are significantly concentrated in few urban areas. However, these labor markets are one of the biggest in the United States, which considerably adds to the impact of their concentration. In 1994, these five urban areas were Washington, D.C., Chicago, Miami, New York, and Los Angeles. Together, they comprised 51% of all immigrants in 1994 (Briggs 1996, 372-373). Thus, the effect of immigration on the labor market is considerably larger than is shown by population data. Immigration has intensified the competition in the low-skilled labor market. Recently, the number of unskilled occupations has failed to keep up with the growth of the unskilled labor force. With regard to skilled occupations, immigration can be temporarily advantageous as a way of supplying capable workers where short supplies of eligible local workers are present. However, the permanent goal should be that these jobs should be occupied by nationals or native residents (Cornelius 2004, 39). In 1989, the Commission on Workforce Quality and Labor Market Efficiency already informed the U.S. Secretary of Labor: by using immigration to relieve shortages, we may miss the opportunity to draw additional U.S. workers into the economic mainstream (U.S. Department of Labor et al. 1989, 32).