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Latino Daily News

Tuesday January 18, 2011

New Report Shows the Economic Benefit of Low-Skilled Immigration

New Report Shows the Economic Benefit of Low-Skilled Immigration

Photo: low-skill jobs

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A new report for the Migration Policy Institute states that despite what many have said in regards to the benefits of only highly skilled immigrants, it is just as important to the economy to have low-skilled immigrants as well.

Though economists are still arguing over the costs and benefits of less-skilled immigrants, the report Immigration Policy and Less-Skilled Workers in the United States: Reflections on Future Directions for Reform, Professor Harry Holzer of the Georgetown Public Policy Institutes states that he found that the benefits of low-skilled immigrants mostly go to the employers who get to pay the workers lower wages, but the benefits also reach both higher and lower-income consumers, as they both purchase the goods and/or services produced by the lower skilled workers.

The negative aspect of these lower skilled workers is seen amongst U.S.-born low-skilled workers and immigrants who come to the country earlier, as they must compete over the low-skill jobs with new immigrants coming in. However, Holzer, a former chief economist for the Labor Department said that this negative aspect is relatively modest, and the positive still far surpasses it.

“Even the most negative estimates of the impacts of less-skilled immigrants on U.S. workers in similar jobs suggest that in the long run, immigration accounts for only a small share of the deterioration observed in less-skilled Americans’ employment and earnings,” said Holzer.

Holzer argued that an “optimal level” of less-skilled immigration is too complex to determine, but gave suggestions on how to modify immigration policy to increase the benefits of such workers.

·  Providing pathways to legal status and citizenship for low-skilled workers already here, and a legal route for future workers by using provisional visas that make it possible for some temporary workers to become permanent residents.

·  Allowing less-skilled workers on employment-based visas to switch employers more easily and gain a path to citizenship.

·  Setting employer visa fees at a level sufficient to offset some of the costs that low-skilled immigration imposes.

·  Ensuring flexibility in the numbers admitted so that flows can respond to employer demand and macroeconomic conditions.

Read Holzer’s full report here.