Mass Immigration Eats Away at Wages



The latest glowing U.S. jobs report was tarnished by more depressing news on wages. They continue to flat-line.

One reason for the phenomenon of low unemployment and low wage growth is the corrosive effects of mass immigration.

In case you hadn’t noticed, wages in America have been stagnating since the early 1970s. Not coincidentally, U.S. immigration policy was liberalized during this period, bringing a record 59 million newcomers into this country (plus untold millions of illegal aliens).

The era of mass immigration also coincided with other factors that have served to undermine U.S. workers, such as globalization and automation.

With the nation’s jobless rate at its lowest level in nearly 18 years, and employers complaining that workers are hard to find, U.S. wages continue to defy the law of supply and demand.

While mass immigration may not be solely to blame for the job-wage disconnect, it is the single most controllable factor suppressing wage growth. We have very limited control over matters of globalization and the increasing use of automation and artificial intelligence. We do have enormous control over how many new workers we admit or allow to enter our country, if we choose to exercise it.

Constituting a near-record 14 percent of the U.S. population, immigrants “grow the economy” with their presence, but the economic benefits are not shared by workers whose paychecks lose ground to inflation.

From high-tech companies to the service industry, U.S. employers demand evermore immigrant labor. H-1B (skilled) and H-2B (lower-skilled) visas are used to hire millions of foreigners and suppress wages. The Trump administration, with congressional approval, has signaled its intent to raise the annual quotas yet again.

Recent research shows workers already are available for many jobs.

“If such workers really were in short supply, wages should be rising rapidly as employers struggle to recruit new workers or retain the ones they have. In economics, the price of anything — steel, wheat or workers — rises if demand outstrips supply. The price of workers is primarily wages,” notes Steven Camarota of the Center for Immigration Studies.

Salary data that continue to show little or no wage gains – or even outright declines – suggest mass immigration is a key factor driving the “structural” economic changes vaguely alluded to in media reports. They just won’t tell you that.

Between now and 2065, immigrants are projected to account for a whopping 88 percent of the U.S. population increase, or 103 million people, as the nation grows to 441 million. Any wagers on how that growth will trickle down to your children’s paychecks?

About Author

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Bob Dane, the Federation for American Immigration Reform (FAIR)'s Executive Director, has been with FAIR since 2006. His deep belief is that immigration is the most transformational determinant of where we are heading as a nation and that our policies must be reformed in the public interest. Over many years on thousands of radio, TV and print interviews, Bob has made the case that unless immigration is regulated and sensibly reduced, it will be difficult for America to reduce unemployment, increase wages, improve health care and education and heighten national security. Prior to joining FAIR, Bob spent twenty years in network radio, marketing and communications after an earlier career in policy and budgeting within the Reagan Administration. Bob has a degree from George Mason University in Public Administration and Management.

5 Comments

  1. avatar

    California governor Jerry Brown recently said that vice president Mike Pence was more “dangerous” to this country than the Central American “caravan” that arrived at our borders. Actually it’s people like Brown that are the danger to this country. He not only fails to discourage illegal entry, but encourages it. We have laws on the books against being here and working without permission, but the left says those can be ignored. The rest of us must obey the laws but foreign citizens must be rewarded with “citizenship” when they break them.

    We cannot steal anyone’s identity, which frequently causes the victim major problems with things like loans and passports. But our government knows when Social Security numbers are stolen and does nothing about it. The victim has to do the work to clear themselves and IRS will not even tell them who or where their number is being used, because of privacy concerns. Whose privacy? Criminals? Apparently so.

  2. avatar

    Not sure why you mention H-2Bs in this discussion. H-2Bs are NOT immigrants and never will be. They come for a few months LEGALLY and leave. They are a small drop in the workforce bucket – .04%. You should be applauding employers for bringing in expense, legal H-2Bs to help their business grow and make more jobs for US workers.

    • avatar
      Mary Herron on

      Not all of them leave. They move on to find another job in our fast food industries, construction, factories. Crossing the border is not the way “the large majority of persons now become undocumented,” the Center for Migration Studies (CMS) said in a recent report. Two-thirds of those who joined the undocumented population did so by entering with a valid visa and then overstaying their period of admission, the center repored.

      Overstays have exceeded those entering illegally every year since 2007, and there have been half a million more overstays than illegal entries since 2007.

  3. avatar
    Edward Brunyansky on

    I’m especially consurned after being used in a scammed marriage I thought was real but in reality I was used for only a green card. She found another illegal to hook up who lived in the building I lived in and with the help of the manager tried to force me out of my apartment. She was supposed to be deported but they never did. Now she has children and the taxpayers are paying for my mistake. All I want is them deported for wasting my time and money. The manager was a criminal from from Cuba hired by Weiss management and later fired by them after I won a case in court to stay in my apartment. I’m sure there are good people but the bad ones like these should be removed so others won’t get hurt.

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