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Immigrants Add Value to the American Economy

November 5, 2012
Plain English Version

For years many Americans thought immigrants displaced American workers. They were partly right. Some Americans without a high school degree had to compete with undocumented workers.

That is not, however, the whole story. Experts now say that immigrants improve the economy. They do it by giving employers a new source of labor. This means that employers will invest in their businesses and reduce the price of their goods and services. In other words, immigrants help grow the economy.

How does this happen in the face of deeply held views that immigrants hurt the economy? When businesses grow they need more workers for supervision, sales and management. New immigrants have lower language skills and education. Companies hiring immigrants grow and then hire better paid domestic workers.

Experts say these workers go to bank jobs, cashiers, waiters or sales clerks. Immigrants get manual labor jobs. The whole exchange leads to growth in the economy.

Immigrants also keep jobs in the United States. Without their labor, more farm goods would come from foreign growers.

In an economic downturn most people suffer including immigrants, some of whom are now leaving the United States. An expert said, “If some firms do not expand because this labor is not there, they will create less jobs for native workers.”

The New York Times

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