Rapid increases in immigration since 1990 have not generally hurt employment of American workers, according to a study released by the Pew Hispanic Center on Thursday. But the study found instances where foreign-born workers may have a negative effect on the employment prospects of native-born workers.
The center studied U.S. Census data on the increase in immigrants from 1990 to 2000, and from 2000 to 2004, for each state. The data matched those figures with state employment rates, unemployment rates and participation in the labor force among native-born Americans.
The U.S. had 28 million immigrants legal and illegal age 16 and older in 2000, an increase of 61 percent from 1990. By 2004, there were 32 million.
Rakesh Kochhar, the associate director for research who authored the study, said no consistent pattern emerged to show that American-born workers suffered or benefited from increased numbers of foreign-born workers.
Among other findings of the report were:
· Many immigrant workers lack a college education and are relatively young, but they had an impact on the wages of native-born workers with similar socioeconomic backgrounds.
· The share of foreign-born workers in the work force of a state was not related to the employment rate for native-born workers in either 2000 or 2004.
· Eight states had above-average growth in the foreign-born population from 1990-2000 and below-average employment rates for native-born workers in 2000. Those states, where immigration may have had a negative impact, include North Carolina, Tennessee and Arizona.
· Fourteen states with above-average growth in the foreign-born population and above-average employment rates for native-born workers in 2000. Those states, where rapid immigration appears to have not harmed native-born workers, included Texas, Nevada and Georgia
“There is no consensus… on whether immigrant workers displace native-born workers. The answer depends upon a number of factors including, but not limited to, the period of analysis, the choice of skill groups, the geographic scope of a local labor market and the model specification,” said Kochhar.
But as legislatures continue to debate the immigration issue, there are many experts who say that immigrants hurt local workers.
Steven Camarota, director of research for the Center for Immigration Studies, said his research shows that many young workers with little education are hurt by competition from immigrants.
“Employment for less educated natives has declined, and their wages have declined,” said Camarota, who advocates stricter immigration policies. “There is no shortage of less educated workers in the United States.”
– Diverse and wire reports
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