Home > Free Essays > Sociology > Immigration > The Importance of Immigrant Workers on the U.S. Economy

The Importance of Immigrant Workers on the U.S. Economy Essay

Exclusively available on IvyPanda Available only on IvyPanda
Updated: May 5th, 2020

Immigration is a contentious issue in the United States of America because it is a First World country, and the dream destination of immigrant workers desperate to earn a living. Immigration is a contentious issue when viewed from an economic perspective. The fear and apprehension of many Americans is rooted on an economic principle that resources are always limited. Therefore, an increase in population means that there are more people competing for the same limited resources.

However, there is a need to re-examine the issue further and determine the exact impact of immigrant workers on the U.S. economy. It is imperative to find out if immigrant workers strengthen or weaken the U.S. economy. With regards to these issues, the proponent of the study would test three hypotheses using information from the U.S. Bureau of Census, the U.S. Department of Labor and peer-reviewed sources.

Literature Review

There are contending views with regards to the presence of immigrant workers in the United States of America. There is therefore the need to look at the macroeconomic level and figure out the impact of immigrant workers in the lives of native-born Americans.

It is therefore imperative to cite a Harvard University study in 2004 that says, “immigration – both legal and illegal – reduced annual earnings for American-born men by 3.7 percent, or nearly $1,700 … for those without a high school degree, the effect was double that, with wages down 7.4 percent” (Quintanilla 1).

The said study underscored the fact that there are some native-born American citizens who are negatively affected by the presence of immigrant workers in this country.

Those who are affected were native-born Americans who do not have high school diplomas and do not possess specialized skills (Henderson 1). Aside from those who did not pursue higher education, possess special skills, there are other people groups that are affected by the influx of immigrant workers and they are African Americans and native-born Hispanics (Henderson1). The said research findings were able to demonstrate that not all Americans were negatively affected by the influx of immigrant workers.

There are economists who pointed out that American consumers benefit from low prices of goods because of the low wages paid to immigrants (Isidore 1). In addition, “lower-wage labor helps create more work for higher-skilled, higher-paid workers who are generally native born” (Isidore 1). These findings provide a counter-argument for those who oppose the presence of migrant workers.

Data and Methodology

Data used for this study was taken from the U.S. Bureau of Census. In 2005 the U.S. Bureau of Census conducted a survey that enabled this particular government agency to determine the number of illegal immigrants in the country. Another set of data was taken from the U.S. Department of Labor.

The said government agency was able to figure out how certain businesses benefited from the contribution of illegal immigrants due to their low wages. Aside from related government agencies, pertinent information was gathered from peer-reviewed sources.

There were three hypotheses that were formulated based on the research question. The three hypotheses were used as a guide for the investigation of the true impact of immigration to the U.S. economy. The three hypotheses were listed as follows:

Hypothesis 1: The presence of immigrant workers is problematic to the U.S. economy. As a result the economy is weakened such that there is significant loss of productivity. In addition, the immigrants compete for the limited jobs that are in the market.

Hypothesis 2: The presence of immigrant workers is a positive force and benefits the U.S. economy. Immigrants possess skills that could enhance the U.S. labor market.

Hypothesis 3: Illegal immigrants weaken the U.S. economy because they compete with limited jobs that are available in the market. As a result, many Americans could not find work.

The data gathered would be analyzed using a framework based on the three hypotheses. The proponent of the study would like to determine the impact of both legal and illegal immigrant workers in this country.

Results

Hypothesis 1: The presence of immigrant workers is a bane to the U.S. economy. As a result the economy is weakened such that there is significant loss of productivity. In addition, the immigrants compete for the limited jobs that are in the market.

As the population increases, it is logical to expect that resources would be depleted. As a consequence the U.S. government established immigration laws that served as a means to regulate the number of immigrants that could pass through the country’s national borders.

It is understandable that the U.S. government should regulate the entry of immigrant workers but it is not easy to understand why there is a need to perpetuate the fear brought about by the presence of immigrant workers. Those who strongly oppose the influx of immigrant workers always point to their impact on the country’s economy.

Aside from the stringent measures designed to significantly curtail the entry of immigrant workers to this country, there were also tough laws that were designed to deport and forcibly remove undocumented aliens. The way some people treated immigrants was based on fear and not facts.

It has to be pointed out that there were numerous studies conducted to determine the impact of immigrant workers, and in those studies, it was revealed that immigrant workers did not only utilize available resources, they also contributed to the enhancement of American culture (Hall 1). At the same time their industriousness and ingenuity were one of the reasons why the United States became an economic superpower (Hall 1). There was therefore enough information to show that not all immigrant workers could weaken the U.S. economy.

It is also interesting to point out that the opinion regarding the negative impact of immigrant workers must be scrutinized even further. There is also the need to re-evaluate economic principles used to judge the advantage or disadvantages of the presence of immigrant workers in this country.

The insight gleaned from the study of pertinent information revealed that immigrant workers could help enhance the economy and some cultural aspects of the country. However, the proponent of the study could not ignore the data that says there are certain demographic groups that were negatively affected by the influx of immigrant workers.

These movements of immigrant workers were instrumental in reducing wage rates. It has something to do with the economic principle contained in the law of demand and supply. In other words the presence of surplus labor means that there would be intense competition for a particular position. If there are many qualified workers willing to accept a job offer with a reduced pay rate, then, the impact could translate to lower wages for all the workers in the said industry.

Hypothesis 2: The presence of immigrant workers is a positive force and benefits the U.S. economy. Immigrants possess skills that could enhance the U.S. labor market.

In order to appreciate the importance of immigrant workers, consider the contribution of the first wave of immigrants to the United States; they were the Italians, Irish, Scots and others who came from the European continent. According to one study that was specifically designed to understand the contribution of Italian immigrants, the researcher said, “These people were on the whole, peaceable and industrious, and improved the trades in which they engaged” (Hall 55).

Aside from the Italians, families of immigrant workers revolutionized different sectors of American society such as sports, film, food, telecommunications, Information Technology, engineering and many more (The Wall Street Journal 1).

One of the best examples is the contribution of Information Technology specialists working in Silicon Valley. Many of the brilliant minds in the IT industry came from Europe and Asia. One can just imagine the loss to the industry if these people were not given the chance to migrate to the United States.

It is still possible to have cutting-edge technology in this field but their contributions clearly spelled the difference in the creation of software and technology that radically altered the way people perceive Information Technology. It is impossible to measure the economic benefits through IT related technology and products that were produced in this country because of the contribution of foreign-born researchers and scientists.

The United States is a melting pot of culture. Imagine the type of food available to Americans if they did not allow Italians, French, Chinese and German immigrants to settle in this country. Due to the culinary influence of the various people groups that came from foreign lands, the United States gourmet experience was transformed to include food that were not part of the typical American diet. There is no way to measure the economic benefit of the various food products introduced by immigrant workers to this country.

The unfounded assumption that immigrant workers would negatively affect the U.S. labor market requires deeper analysis. According to one report, the decade between 1960 and 2000 was the time period when “working-age native born U.S. residents without a high school degree fell to 12% from 50% of the population” (The Wall Street Journal 1).

This data reveals that the U.S. population is highly literate compared to the past two centuries. As a consequence there are many native-born Americans who are highly qualified and would never agree to work for low-paying jobs.

The second major implication of this data is the fact that the U.S. economy would not thrive without immigrant workers because it needs people who can take care of menial jobs and other workload that does not require a college degree. There are certain industries that could only thrive if business owners could lower the cost of production. For example, orange juice products could remain competitive only if prices remain low.

Prices could only remain low if the firms managing orange orchards could tap a relatively cheap labor force. The only way to hire fruit pickers with low wages is to hire immigrant workers. There is no other practical way to hire immigrant workers than to tap a labor force that is close to the U.S. border. In other words it is practical to hire immigrant workers from Mexico. However, the idea of hiring workers from Mexico may not be acceptable to many Americans.

Regardless of the opinion of many Americans, the hiring of immigrant workers made sense in terms of lowering the cost of production. Aside from the existence of a cheap labor force available to employers, there are also immigrant workers that contribute knowledge and experience into various U.S. based industries. Some of the significant innovations in science and technology as well as knowledge in research and development could be traced to the contributions of immigrant workers.

It has bee made clear that overall the U.S. economy benefited from the influx of immigrant workers. However, it is also important to point out that uneducated Americans may suffer from competing forces.

Those who compete for low-paying jobs would be severely affected. Native-born Americans without a high school diploma may find it extremely difficult to work in the manufacturing and construction sector. However, it has to be reiterated that the number of Americans without a high school diploma continue to decrease on a yearly basis based on the research data (Wall Street Journal 1).

Hypothesis 3: Illegal immigrants weaken the U.S. economy because they compete with limited jobs that are available in the market. As a result, many Americans could not find work.

The issue with regards to the impact of immigrant workers must be clarified even further. There is a need to find out if dislike for immigrant workers is linked to illegal aliens and not the legitimate workers with working visas. It has to be acknowledged that the influx of illegal immigrants to this country reached alarming levels in the past few decades.

The influx of workers coming through the borders that separate the U.S. and Mexico for instance is due to the powerful economic incentive that pushes Mexicans to risk their lives in order to live in a land of opportunity.

The argument against illegal immigration was based on the following principle: “a surge of low-skilled immigrants should increase the supply of such workers, driving down wages at the expense of working-class Americans” (Henderson, 1).

The fear that illegal aliens would steal jobs away from native-born Americans was also based on the interpretation of the data released by the U.S. Census Bureau. In their March 2005 survey, there are at least “11.5 to 12 million illegal immigrants and of that number 6.2 million from Mexico and about 2.5 million come from the rest of Latin America” (Forbes, 1).

The significant number of illegal aliens must not be overlooked. However, there is another way to interpret the said data. According to one analyst, the US economy will collapse without immigrant workers (Quintanilla 1). In the said report, immigrant workers were crucial to the U.S. economy because “they do jobs most Americans wouldn’t take, for wages they wouldn’t want” (Quintanilla, 1).

There is a need for dishwashers, housecleaners, factory workers, messengers etc. A waste management facility would not thrive if there were only managers but no garbage collectors. Native-born Americans prefer white-collar jobs but the economy would fail without the help of gardeners, furniture movers, fruit pickers and other jobs that require low-wage workers (Quintanilla, 1).

It has to be pointed out that, “lower-wage labor helps create more work for higher-skilled, higher-paid workers who are generally native born” (Isidore 1). The following report from the U.S. Department of Labor strengthens this argument: “at least half of the nearly 2 million crop workers in the United States are illegal aliens … the cheap labor they provide is crucial to the $30 billion U.S. farm industry” (Parker 1).

It is impossible to imagine how major U.S. industries could be sustained without illegal immigrants. There is therefore the need to relax restrictions or legalize the status of illegal immigrants.

In another report, it was determined that, “the Hispanics alone represent 25% of workers in the meat and poultry industry; 24% of workers in the drywall and ceiling tile installation industry; and 24% of dishwashers in US restaurants (Grow 1). It could be argued, “some US industries have become so dependent on illegal labor that a wholesale expulsion would be crippling” (Grow 1).

Another argument that supports the lowering of restrictions is linked to the idea that the presence of illegal immigrants could be used to deter the relocation of businesses abroad. According to an analyst, “the easier it is to find cheap immigrant labor at home, the less likely that production will relocate offshore” (Cowen 1). It would create a ripple effect if US-based companies need not relocate their factories to China or Thailand.

There is a need to review laws concerning illegal migrants. Nevertheless, the New York Times reported a surprising development; the article says, “Mexican migration has sputtered to a trickle due to various factors such as improving economic conditions in Mexico, border crime and economic slowdowns, and immigrant crackdowns” (Cave 1).

If this trend continues native-born Americans would soon find out that the U.S. economy needs immigrant workers and there are certain industries that would benefit from lowering the standards for entry in order to legalize the status of illegal aliens.

Conclusion

Hypothesis 1 was proven to be false because the presence of immigrant workers was a positive force for the U.S. economy. The fear that immigrant workers would compete with available jobs was based on assumptions and not fact. In reality, immigrant workers simply took jobs that were unattractive to native-born Americans. At the same time, immigrant workers were instrumental in the creation of new jobs and the best example are the businesses that sprouted in Silicon Valley because of the contribution of IT specialists from Europe and Asia.

Hypothesis 2 was proven to be true because immigrant workers brought at least two positive things to the country. First, immigration brought talented and hardworking people who were instrumental in the creation of innovative products and solutions. Second, immigrant workers provided a cheap labor force for certain industries. Hypothesis 3 was proven false because the existence of a cheap labor force was critical in many industries.

There are certain industries that could not survive without the ability to hire low-wage workers. Native-born American must reconsider their position with regards to immigrant workers because they would never consider such low-paying jobs. They also want their food products to remain cheap. They want to pay for inexpensive landscaping, gardening and other services. It is not possible to maintain a certain lifestyle without the help of immigrant workers.

Works Cited

Cave, Damien, . The New York Times, 2011. Web.

Cowen, Tyler. , 2010. Web.

Forbes. . Forbes, 2007. Web.

Grow, Brian. Embracing Illegals: Companies are getting hooked on the Buying Power of 11 Million Undocumented Immigrants. Bloomberg-Businessweek, 2005. Web.

Hall, Prescott. Immigration and Its Effects Upon the United States, New York: Adamant Media Corporation, 2005. Print.

Henderson, Nell. Effect of Immigration on Jobs, Wages is Difficult for Economists to Nail Down. Washington Post, 2006.

Isidore, Chris. . CNN Money, 2006. Web.

Parker, Serena. Immigrants: US Economic Savior or Social and Economic Burden. Voice of America, 2 May 2005. Web.

Quintanilla, Carl. The Economic Impact of Immigration: Do Illegal Workers Help or Hurt the Economy? MSNBC. 2006. Web.

The Wall Street Journal. Immigration Out of Sight: Ignoring Immigration Policy Does not Favors for the U.S. Economy. The Wall Street Journal. 2009. Web.

This essay on The Importance of Immigrant Workers on the U.S. Economy was written and submitted by your fellow student. You are free to use it for research and reference purposes in order to write your own paper; however, you must cite it accordingly.
Removal Request
If you are the copyright owner of this paper and no longer wish to have your work published on IvyPanda.
Request the removal

Need a custom Essay sample written from scratch by
professional specifically for you?

Writer online avatar
Writer online avatar
Writer online avatar
Writer online avatar
Writer online avatar
Writer online avatar
Writer online avatar
Writer online avatar
Writer online avatar
Writer online avatar
Writer online avatar
Writer online avatar

certified writers online

Cite This paper

Select a citation style:

Reference

IvyPanda. (2020, May 5). The Importance of Immigrant Workers on the U.S. Economy. Retrieved from https://ivypanda.com/essays/the-importance-of-immigrant-workers-on-the-u-s-economy/

Work Cited

"The Importance of Immigrant Workers on the U.S. Economy." IvyPanda, 5 May 2020, ivypanda.com/essays/the-importance-of-immigrant-workers-on-the-u-s-economy/.

1. IvyPanda. "The Importance of Immigrant Workers on the U.S. Economy." May 5, 2020. https://ivypanda.com/essays/the-importance-of-immigrant-workers-on-the-u-s-economy/.


Bibliography


IvyPanda. "The Importance of Immigrant Workers on the U.S. Economy." May 5, 2020. https://ivypanda.com/essays/the-importance-of-immigrant-workers-on-the-u-s-economy/.

References

IvyPanda. 2020. "The Importance of Immigrant Workers on the U.S. Economy." May 5, 2020. https://ivypanda.com/essays/the-importance-of-immigrant-workers-on-the-u-s-economy/.

References

IvyPanda. (2020) 'The Importance of Immigrant Workers on the U.S. Economy'. 5 May.

More related papers
Psst... Stuck with your
assignment? 😱
Hellen
Online
Psst... Stuck with your assignment? 😱
Do you need an essay to be done?
What type of assignment 📝 do you need?
How many pages (words) do you need? Let's see if we can help you!