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Immigration and the U.S. Labor Market

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Listed:
  • Brian Duncan

    () (Department of Economics, University of Colorado at Denver)

  • Stephen Trejo

    () (Department of Economics, University of Texas at Austin, and CReAM)

Abstract

Over the last several decades, two of the most significant developments in the U.S. labor market have been: (1) rising inequality, and (2) growth in both the size and the diversity of immigration flows. Because a large share of new immigrants arrive with very low levels of schooling, English proficiency, and other skills that have become increasingly important determinants of success in the U.S. labor market, an obvious concern is that such immigrants are a poor fit for the restructured American economy. In this chapter, we evaluate this concern by discussing evidence for the United States on two relevant topics: the labor market integration of immigrants, and the impact of immigration on the wages and employment opportunities of native workers. In these dimensions, the overall labor market performance of U.S. immigrants seems quite favorable. U.S. immigrants have little trouble finding jobs, and this is particularly true of unskilled immigrants. Most U.S. immigrants experience substantial earnings growth as they adapt to the American labor market. For most immigrant groups, the U.S.-born second generation has achieved socioeconomic parity with mainstream society; for some Hispanic groups, however, this is not the case. On the whole, immigration to the United States has not had large adverse consequences for the labor market opportunities of native workers. Therefore, with regard to the economic integration and labor market impacts of immigration, it is not obvious that the seemingly haphazard nature of U.S. immigration policy has led to unfavorable outcomes.

Suggested Citation

  • Brian Duncan & Stephen Trejo, 2009. "Immigration and the U.S. Labor Market," CReAM Discussion Paper Series 0908, Centre for Research and Analysis of Migration (CReAM), Department of Economics, University College London.
  • Handle: RePEc:crm:wpaper:0908
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    1. Heather Antecol & Deborah A. Cobb-Clark & Stephen J. Trejo, 2003. "Immigration Policy and the Skills of Immigrants to Australia, Canada, and the United States," Journal of Human Resources, University of Wisconsin Press, vol. 38(1).
    2. David Card & Ethan G. Lewis, 2007. "The Diffusion of Mexican Immigrants During the 1990s: Explanations and Impacts," NBER Chapters,in: Mexican Immigration to the United States, pages 193-228 National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    3. Katharine Donato & Jorge Durand & Douglas Massey, 1992. "Stemming the tide? Assessing the deterrent effects of the immigration reform and control act," Demography, Springer;Population Association of America (PAA), vol. 29(2), pages 139-157, May.
    4. Antecol, Heather & Cobb-Clark, Deborah A. & Trejo, Stephen, 2002. "Human Capital and Earnings of Female Immigrants to Australia, Canada, and the United States," IZA Discussion Papers 575, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
    5. Heather Antecol & Peter Kuhn & Stephen J. Trejo, 2006. "Assimilation via Prices or Quantities?: Sources of Immigrant Earnings Growth in Australia, Canada, and the United States," Journal of Human Resources, University of Wisconsin Press, vol. 41(4).
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    7. Sherrie A. Kossoudji & Deborah A. Cobb-Clark, 2002. "Coming out of the Shadows: Learning about Legal Status and Wages from the Legalized Population," Journal of Labor Economics, University of Chicago Press, vol. 20(3), pages 598-628, July.
    8. George J. Borjas, 2007. "Introduction to "Mexican Immigration to the United States"," NBER Chapters,in: Mexican Immigration to the United States, pages 1-12 National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    9. Monica Boyd, 1976. "Immigration policies and trends: A comparison of Canada and the United States," Demography, Springer;Population Association of America (PAA), vol. 13(1), pages 83-104, February.
    10. David Card & Richard B. Freeman, 1993. "Small Differences That Matter: Labor Markets and Income Maintenance in Canada and the United States," NBER Books, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc, number card93-1, January.
    11. Borjas, George J, 1985. "Assimilation, Changes in Cohort Quality, and the Earnings of Immigrants," Journal of Labor Economics, University of Chicago Press, vol. 3(4), pages 463-489, October.
    12. Rachel M. Friedberg & Jennifer Hunt, 1995. "The Impact of Immigrants on Host Country Wages, Employment and Growth," Journal of Economic Perspectives, American Economic Association, vol. 9(2), pages 23-44, Spring.
    13. Ethan Lewis, 2003. "Local, open economies within the U.S.: how do industries respond to immigration?," Working Papers 04-1, Federal Reserve Bank of Philadelphia.
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