Migration Policy Institute
Does Low-Skilled Immigration Hurt the U.S. Economy? Assessing the Evidence
Harry Holzer, Professor, Georgetown Public Policy Institute
Demetrios G. Papademetriou, MPI President
Darrell M. West, Vice President and Director of Governance Studies, and Founding Director, Center for Technology Innovation, Brookings Institution
Doris Meissner, Senior Fellow and Director of MPI’s U.S. Immigration Policy Program
Michael Fix, MPI Senior Vice President and Director of Studies
There is little debate over the contribution of highly skilled immigration to U.S. economic innovation and national competitiveness. However, there is far less consensus on the effects – positive and negative – of less-skilled immigration on the U.S. economy and American workers. Who are the winners and losers? Are the chief beneficiaries only the employers who utilize this labor? Do other Americans, particularly the economically disadvantaged, suffer? Do these immigrants take American jobs or contribute net benefits and expand the U.S. economy? How strong are our answers to these questions and what are the implications for policymakers who get imperfect information? In the newest report by the Migration Policy Institute’s Labor Markets Initiative, noted economist and Georgetown University Public Policy Institute Professor Harry J. Holzer (who was chief economist at the U.S. Department of Labor) examines the economic reasoning and research on these questions and looks at the policy options that shape the impact of less-skilled immigration on the economy.
This discussion covers what policy reform would best serve native-born American workers, consumers, and employers, as well as the overall U.S. economy.