Education
April 29, 2017
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American workers not being displaced by immigrants

By: SSU NewsCenter
March 10, 2017
Recent SSU study shows immigrants’ presence boosts wages slightly

A new study from Sonoma State University shows no evidence for immigrants displacing American citizens in the workforce. “Empirically, I don’t see any evidence that immigrants are going to take our jobs or decrease our wages,” says Sonoma State Economics Professor Chong-Uk Kim.

Kim’s study, “Immigration and domestic wage: An empirical study on competition among immigrants,” was published in November 2016 in the Journal of Applied Economics. It is based on data from the Current Population Survey, a monthly review of 60,000 U.S. households conducted by the United States Census Bureau.

His research shows not only is there no evidence for immigrant labor hurting the economy, but that more immigrant labor actually results in a modest increase (of less than $35 on average) in annual income for both citizens and non-citizens. The U.S. unemployment rate in November 2016 was 4.6 percent, the lowest it’s been since July 2007.

There are two perspectives on immigration, says Kim, which are substitution and compliment. “Substitution means you come, you take my job, you’re going to hurt my wage. Compliment means you come, we work together, and we make it better so everyone gets a higher wage.”

 

Kim says immigrants would not come to the United States if there were no demand for their labor. 

“They’re coming here because we have work for them,” he says. “They’re not taking our jobs; they’re taking the jobs we don’t do anymore.”

This phenomenon – and its backlash – is not a new one. “A hundred years ago, the same thing happened with Italian and Irish immigrants. Now it’s happening to the Hispanic population,” says Kim.

One thing for certain, he says, is the haste with which the Trump administration has been acting on this issue is ill-advised. “The new administration is making decisions so quickly based on only one perspective, and that’s very risky,” says Kim. “There’s really no one unique solution for this topic.”