Immigration reform would grow the economy, Obama says, but for whom?

You’ve heard the old saw: A recession is when your neighbor is unemployed. A depression is when you are.

In a recent speech, Obama said the Senate immigration reform bill would grow the economy 5 percent over the next 20 years, or by $1.4 trillion, and cut the deficit by $850 billion.

Obama said:

“Immigration reform would make it easier for highly-skilled immigrants and those who study at our colleges and universities to start businesses and create jobs right here in America. Foreign companies would be more likely to invest here. The demand for goods and services would go up – creating more jobs for American workers.”

How are things working out right now? According to a Bureau of Labor Statistics household survey, in June the unemployment rate for native born Americans was 8.1 percent. For foreign born, making no distinction for legal or illegal residency that I could find, the unemployment rate was 6.5 percent.

The Center for Immigration Studies looked at job stats for the years 2000 to 2013 and found “all of the net gain in employment over the last 13 years has gone to immigrants (legal and illegal).”

Key findings:

Between the first quarter of 2000 and the first quarter of 2013, the native-born population accounted for two-thirds of overall growth in the working-age population (16 to 65), but none of the net growth in employment among the working-age has gone to natives.

The overall size of the working-age native-born population increased by 16.4 million from 2000 to 2013, yet the number of natives actually holding a job was 1.3 million lower in 2013 than 2000.

The total number of working-age immigrants (legal and illegal) increased 8.8 million and the number working rose 5.3 million between 2000 and 2013.

Even before the recession, when the economy was expanding (2000 to 2007), 60 percent of the net increase in employment among the working-age went to immigrants, even though they accounted for just 38 percent of population growth among the working-age population.

Where the jobs have gone.

Where the jobs have gone.

21 comments on “Immigration reform would grow the economy, Obama says, but for whom?

  1. Milty says:

    “In a recent speech, Obama said the Senate immigration reform bill would grow the economy 5 percent over the next 20 years, or by $1.4 trillion, and cut the deficit by $850 billion.”

    Gotta give him the benefit of the doubt based on his track record. After all, for the past four years we’ve been reaping all the benefits he projected from the 2009 stimulus, right?

  2. Steve says:

    Does “Native Born” include the children of illegal immigrants?

  3. Nyp says:

    That’s b/c they work harder and better than we do. That’s the American way.

  4. Milty says:

    I have to agree with you, Nyp. If there’s a level playing field, and the native born population lacks the ambition and industriousness to compete, then we deserve to have our clocks cleaned by the immigrants.

    If this were the case, then the next question would be, “Why does the native born population lack the ambition and industriousness to compete, and what can be done about it?”

  5. Reaping and weeping, Milty.

  6. You may be right, Petey … “creating more jobs for American workers” merely means workers in America.

  7. Nyp says:

    I think if you believe in the free movement of goods and capital ya gotta believe in the free movement of labor.

  8. Yes, but not the free movement to welfare.

  9. Nyp says:

    Kind of hard to reconcile the “immigrants are lazy welfare spongers” meme with the premise that “those hard-working immigrants will steal American jobs.”

  10. Steve says:

    In a repeat of an old show by Nyp is the only one using the words “lazy welfare spongers” and “hard-working immigrants”
    Making the words, then arguing them amongst himself.

    The playing field is not level when particular segments of society are lifted above others. IF the chips were allowed to fall where they may, then (and only then) would Nyp’s argument hold any sway.

  11. Rincon says:

    Regardless of the adjectives selected, nyp has a good point. Saying that immigrants are taking up all of the jobs while claiming that they are sponging off of the system appears paradoxical to me.

  12. Steve says:

    Lets simplify it.

    The issue is not what Nyp claims.
    Its about the leveling of the playing field. This was accomplished more than a decade ago. What is happening now is the artificial elevating of certain segments of the society.

  13. Dave444 says:

    In his book Centennial Michener wrote that at that time the Mexican labor came to work in the fields and then went home in the winter season and had no interest in ownership of land or business. At that time I believe they did not
    bring their families with them. In the days of Caesar Chavez and the “LABOR”
    movement attempts were made to force employers to provide housing and more and more benefits to this temporary labor force sometimes known as “wetbacks” and at that point the families started coming with the workers.At first they came and went but the attraction of the benefits started keeping them here. To my knowledge no attempt by state or federal government was made keep track of who came and went and one day it was recognized that we had a lot of Mexican citizens living among us but no idea of how many or who they were. At one point the Congress authorized the “Bracero” program. I don’t remember the details but it seemed to make the situation ok…at least from some points of view. Not legally ok but there did not appear to be any harm going on. Fast forward to today and now the result of malfeasance by federal government is apparent to
    most people even if they don’t fully understand what has happened. The law of unintended consequences has struck again.

  14. nyp says:

    If you believe in free markets and free trade among free people I don’t see how you can oppose the free movement of labor.

    What right does the government have to tell me whom I can and cannot hire? And why should the government be restricting my right to work wherever I want and at whatever wage rates I am willing to accept?

  15. No paradox when all the jobs are part-time.

  16. nyp says:

    Actually, they are not all part time. But even if there were, I don’t understand why a free-market guy would object to people being able to freely sell and hire labor at whatever price the market would bear, wherever the market might be.

  17. Steve says:

    Its not free movement of labor anymore. Some segments of labor are encouraged to be more “free” than others.

  18. I don’t object to a free market, but the welfare state obliterates any similarity to free.

  19. nyp says:

    Ah, there you go again. Those Mexicans are somehow going to take away our jobs becaus they work so hard for so little, while simultaneously loafing around collecting welfare (sic.) instead of working.

  20. Rincon says:

    The answers are simple: 1) Tighten up the border and 2) Overhaul welfare. Everybody should work for what they receive

  21. If you overhaul welfare, you might not need to tighten the border.

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