Immigration and Its Effect on the Economy of the U.S
The 1990s have brought the largest influx of immigrants into labor force of the United States of any decade in this nation's history. A panel of social science scholars concluded their assessment of U.S. society with the observation that "America's biggest import is people" and determined that "at a time when attention is directed to the general decline in American exceptionalism, American immigration continues to flow at a rate unknown elsewhere in the world" [Oxford Analytica 1986, 20]. Unlike earlier mass immigration periods to the United States the present day wave of immigration to the U.S. show "no sign of imminent decline" [Bouvier 1991, 18]. "In today's world setting, international migration is a discretionary action that is regulated by the specific actions of the governments of individual nation-states." There is no international obligation for any nation to allow others to enter or to work, in fact, most nations do not admit immigrants for permanent settlement
Mass immigration has played a significant role in the economic history of the United States, nevertheless the harsh fact is that what may be necessary and beneficial at one time, may not be so at another. The demand for labor is being affected by "restructuring forces stemming from the nature and pace of technological change; from the stiff international competition the United States that now confronts for the first time in its history; from major shifts in consumer spending away from goods toward services; and from the substantial reduction
In the national defense expenditures brought about by the end of the Cold War in the early 1990's". (vernon m. briggs,jr. and stephen moore. pg 35.) In looking toward the future the twenty occupations projected to grow the fastest in the 1990s, half are related to the growing computer and health fields. The shift to a service based economy is leading to an upgrading of the skills and education required by the labor force. On the other hand the occupations that require minimal skills and education have declined and are presently forecasted to continue to do so. Immigration can be useful in the short run as a means of providing qualified workers where shortages of qualified domestic workers exist. But, the long-term objective should be that these jobs should go to citizens and resident aliens. "The 1990 Census revealed that the percentage of foreign-born adults (25 years and over) who had less than a ninth grade education was 25 percent (compared to only 10 percent for native-born adults) and whereas 23 percent of native-born adults did not have a high school diploma, 42 percent of foreign-born adults did not. Immigration, therefore, is a major contributor to the nation's adult illiteracy problem. On the other hand, both foreign-born adults and native-born adults had the same percentage of persons who had a bachelor's degree or higher (20.3 percent and 20.4 percent, respectively), but with regard to those who had graduate degrees, foreign-born adults had a considerably higher percentage than did the native-born, 3.8 percent versus 2.4 percent.( )" It is at both ends of the U.S. labor force that immigration has its greatest impact at the bottom and at the top of the economic ladder. "The overall unemployment rate of foreign-born workers in 1994 was 9.2 percent, while the comparable national unemployment rate at the time was 6.5 percent. The unemployment rate for foreign-born workers with less than a ninth grade education in 1994 was 13 percent; for those with some high school but no diploma, it was 15.2 percent. The comparable rates for native-born workers were 13.5 percent and 29.9 percent." Consequently, the greatest labor market impact of immigration is in the sector of the labor market that is already having the greatest difficulty finding employment. "The 1990 Census also disclosed that 79.1 percent of the foreign-born population (five years...
Bibliography: Bouvier, Leon. Peaceful Invasions: Immigration and Changing America. Washington,
D.C.: Center for Immigration Studies, 1991.
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