When You’re Right, You’re Right

Stewart-rally-crowd-photoA new Congressional Research Service report issued April 22, 2015 found that, as the immigrant population rapidly increased as a result of the 1965 immigration law, the earnings of the lowest 90 percent of U.S. workers generally flat lined and continues to do so up to the present. This contrasted with the earlier period from 1945 to 1970 when immigration dropped slightly and US worker income nearly doubled.

This finding flies in the face of the hype of immigration boosters that immigration is an economic benefit for the country. The CRS report does not indicate how the top 10 percent of wage earners fared during the period of soaring immigration unleashed by the 1965 legislation, but widespread reports on the increased income disparity between top and bottom earners suggests that the income stagnation experienced by the bottom 90 percent did not coincide with a similar earnings stagnation by the wealthy.

Although this finding does not mean that the rising level of immigration – in both numbers and shares of the population – caused the wage stagnation or the increased income inequality, a report issued several years ago by the Council of Economic Advisors to the President identified immigration as one of the causes of increasing income inequality (along with off-shoring and automation). However, the coincidence between the two opposite trends, both beginning to be seen in the 1970 data, strongly suggests that increasing immigration is not the economic boon that its boosters have claimed.

This finding by the CRS should not come as a surprise. On FAIR’s website you will find a similar finding in a study we issued several years ago. See our Issue Brief on Low immigration and High Economic Growth.

avatar About Jack Martin

Jack, who joined FAIR in 1995, is a retired U.S. diplomat with consular experience. He has testified before the U.S. Congress, U.S. Civil Rights Commission, and U.S. Commission on Immigration Reform and has authored studies of immigration issues. His national and international print, TV, and talk radio experience is extensive (including in Spanish).


  1. avatar David Smith says:

    Since 2002, the United States has created about 9 million new jobs. It has also imported about 18 million immigrants, both legal and illegal. About 90% of new jobs have gone to immigrants. You don’t need to be a rocket scientist to figure out why average wages have flat-lined or declined.

  2. avatar Concerned Citizen says:

    This report further underscores how Hillary Clinton, whose husband brought us NAFTA, after all, represents special interests, not American voters, when she beats the drum for a pathway to citizenship.

  3. avatar Leland says:

    What you will get is all the immigration flacks saying “immigration grows the economy”. Sure, one extra dollar “grows the economy”. But at what expense and who benefits. The wealthy and corporations, that’s who. The fact is that we have put their cherished theory of mass immigration into practice in the last thirty years and the results are not to be disputed. The working and middle classes have gotten the short end of the stick.