Working Paper

Immigrants in the U.S. labor market

Abstract: Immigrants supply skills that are in relatively short supply in the U.S. labor market and account for almost half of labor force growth since the mid-1990s. Migrant inflows have been concentrated at the low and high ends of the skill distribution. Large-scale unauthorized immigration has fueled growth of the low-skill labor force, which has had modest adverse fiscal and labor market effects on taxpayers and U.S.-born workers. High-skilled immigration has been beneficial in most every way, fueling innovation and spurring entrepreneurship in the high tech sector. Highly skilled immigrants have had a positive fiscal impact, contributing more in tax payments than they use in public services. Immigration reform appears to be on the horizon, and policies such as a legalization initiative, a guest-worker program and more permanent visas for high-skilled workers would likely be an improvement over the status quo.

Keywords: Immigration; labor force; immigration policy;

JEL Classification: J15; J18; K37;

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Bibliographic Information

Provider: Federal Reserve Bank of Dallas

Part of Series: Working Papers

Publication Date: 2013

Number: 1306

Pages: 28 pages

Note: Published as: Orrenius, Pia M. and Madeline Zavodny (2014), "Immigrants in the U.S. Labor Market," in Undecided Nation: Political Gridlock and the Immigration Crisis, ed. Tony Payan and Erika de la Garza (Switzerland: Springer), 189-207.