DO UNSKILLED IMMIGRANTS HURT THE ECONOMY?

According to our text, between 700,000 and 900,000 LEGAL  immigrants enter the United States each year. In 2003 immigrants made up 12 percent of our population with 34 million people. Regardless of which side you may support, there is no denying that immigrants help shape our economy whether for the good or the bad.

We will be discussing the opposing views of columnist Steven Malanga and Diana Furchtgott-Roth, senior fellow at the Hudson Institute. Mr. Malanga believes that immigrants are bad for the economy for several different reasons. First, they raise our unemployment while taking jobs from native born workers. Second, they drain our welfare and social programs of funds that could go to native workers. Finally,cheap labor drives down the wage’s of everyone in the workforce,etc. In his argument he distinguishes between the benefits of the migration at the turn of the twentieth century and the high cost of today’s situation. In the end, Mr. Malanga gives credit to some immigrants and admits they have helped the economy. However, their contributions do not make up for the shortfall of the remaining immigrants.

Diana Furchtgott-Roth believes that immigrants are actually good for the economy. In her argument she states that immigration makes up a very small part of the labor force. Next, she discounts the claim that the unemployment rate of the unskilled workforce is 30 percent. Next, she cites data from a senior economist that claims “foreign-born Americans are more likely to work than native-born Americans” and they are employed in expanding industries, not shrinking. She states that immigrants do not depress wages and are willing to take the jobs that natives are not willing to do. Finally, she defends the use of immigrant labor on farms and questions the facts that immigrants are twice as likely to be on welfare.

Check this video out. Are immigrants fleeing the U.S. becuase of its economic condition?  

Here is a link to the AFL-CIO showing some of their opinions on immigration:http://www.aflcio.org/issues/civilrights/immigration/

There are many issues to consider when looking at the impact of unskilled immigrants on our economy. Some to consider are:

Do unskilled immigrants take jobs from native workers? Do they lower the standard of living in America? How do they impact our  health care system and public school system? What would the economy be like without them? Is there any more support for legal immigrants versus illegal?

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29 Comments

Filed under Issue 12: Do unskilled immigrants hurt the economy?

29 responses to “DO UNSKILLED IMMIGRANTS HURT THE ECONOMY?

  1. Sara

    The question of whether or not unskilled immigrants take jobs from their native-born counterparts is a difficult one to answer. And, like so many of the issues we’ve looked at in this class, this is an ongoing debate that people feel very strongly about.

    I feel that there is validity in some of the things that Malanga said, but I was also struck by what I considered to be a major contradiction. He said that “waves of low-wage workers have also retarded investments that might lead to modernization and efficiency. Farming, which employs a million immigrant laborers in California alone, is the prime case in point” (p. 233). But, just a few paragraphs before that he said that “studies show that the immigrants drive down wages of native-born workers and squeeze then out of certain industries” (p. 233). So where I guess I am confused is here: what Malanga seems to be saying is that cheap immigrant labor takes jobs from unskilled native-born Americans (especially in certain industries). But he also said that without the cheap immigrant labor there’d be more automation/technologies and therefore a need for less labor. So either way there’s be unskilled Americans out of a job, right? I must not be understanding something because that doesn’t quite make sense to me.

    I will say that I go agree with Malanga’s point that some unskilled laborers and their families are a tax on our social service systems due to their low wages. But, to be fair, so are the families of many native-born Americans. After all, as Furchtgott-Roth pointed out, “For unskilled workers, although the total unemployment rate was 7.6%, the native-born rate was 9.1% and the foreign-born was much lower, at 5.7%” (p.240). Anyway, I am intrigued by Malanga’s idea of changing the immigration system to focus on attracting more skilled workers/ professionals and their families, such as they do in Australia.

    However, just as an example, I’d like to point to a situation that happened in Australia in 2008 that could easily happen here if we also changed our criteria. A German doctor moved to the country—and he was definitely the type of person the country’s immigration laws are structured to attract seeing as how he was a professional with much-needed skills—but he was denied residency because his son has Down’s syndrome. According to the article I found, the government said “his son had been assessed as a burden on Australian taxpayers and could not be granted permanent residency” (http://www.news.com.au/couriermail/story/0,23739,24580268-953,00.html ). Eventually the family was allowed to stay, but it is an example of potential problems that could arise from such a system, and it is something to consider.

    I can’t say what the economy would be like without unskilled immigrant labor because the idea is so foreign to me (no pun intended). I assume the impact would be less than Malanga would have us believe since according to Furchtgott-Roth, “Annual immigration in 1999 equaled 1% of the labor force—by 2005 it had declined to 0.8%” (p.239). Either way, I know that it would be some kind of major change, although I couldn’t say whether it would be good or bad.

    Before I stop, I just want to say that I feel like there were a lot of statistics and numbers thrown around for this issue. And it seemed to me that there was a lot more data manipulation going on than usual. Anyone else feel that way?

    • Vivienne C. econ2009

      Yeah, this is an ongoing debate. I haven’t finished reading Issue 12 but I’ll take your word for it for now (about numbers being thrown around). I’ll mention more about this in my 2nd post later and let you know whether I feel the same way, when I finish reading.

      P.S. Sara, you were always the first to post weekly WSJ article summaries (in Macroecon last semester) and you’re still the first to post! WoW, you have not changed! :D I mean it as a complement. Seriously, good for you! I admire your discipline, diligence, and above all, punctuality.

      • Vivienne C. econ2009

        Sara, sorry, I meant compliment (with an i).
        I was half asleep late last night when typing past 12 midnight :>
        I finished reading issue 12 early this morning but I won’t get a chance to write (regarding the numbers) until tonight.

    • jinc1019

      I agree that number manipulation is definitely happening within this issue. No matter what source you seek out on the issue, there is a political motive attached to it. Therefore, I do not believe we can completely trust any of these numbers. The truth is that an in-depth study needs to be financed by an independent group that goes well-beyond the guessing most of these other cited studies do.

    • kb3na

      Sara,
      Very interesting story about the doctor in Australia. If America had that same mindset, I doubt the impact of native-born Americans on the social service system would be a big issue. The opinion would probably be…”The immigrants are the one’s that don’t belong while the native born are entitled to the social services.”

      • Kristen

        The story also intrigued me. I think we have more to worry about than a taxpayer burden when we start placing values on human worth. That goes beyond economics to ethics.

    • Vivienne C. econ2009

      Sara, I felt the data/numbers Malanga provides on pages 232-237 were pretty disorganized which I touch on in my 2nd long post below. I didn’t see much significance. However, when I read Roth’s answer, I felt that there is a chance that Malanga might have mis-presented some data or info ( Bottom of page 240).
      There were a few statement made by Malanga which I thought were good, BTW, which is why I said, in my 2nd post, that it might have been much better to categorize things in diff’t categories with sub-categories/headings. My impression was that he particularly had negative opinions of Mexican immigrants. He didn’t seem to have any or much neg. opinion of other ethnic minority groups…. I enjoyed reading his answer tho., despite the fact that I had more disagreeable statements made by him than agreeable ones. He’s prob more knowledgeable than I am on this issue so I shouldn’t really denigrate his character and credibility… if I did by accident then that was entirely unintentional.

      • Sara

        I understand what you’re saying about how Malanga might feel about Mexican immigrants. It struck me as very negative/biased too and I wasn’t sure if I was being offended by nothing.

  2. speltzer

    I would agree with you Sarah- I noticed how both authors use the “manipulation of numbers” for each of their points. Malanga uses the low percentage of immigrants in the labor force as a reason to close the borders and Furchtgott-Roth uses those same statistics to prove that annual immigration is not a large competing force for American labor markets. Funny, huh?

    As I read through the arguments, I think I would overall have to agree with Furchtgott-Roth. Not only from an economic standpoint but also from a sociological standpoint, these unskilled immigrants truly do the “dirty jobs” in America. When I say “dirty jobs” I don’t simply mean the garbage man- these are the low-paying jobs that the average educated American does not want. The key here is that these low skilled jobs are low-PAYING jobs. I am sure A LOT of Americans would be a janitor if it paid the salary of lawyer. Furchtgott-Roth makes a good point when she discusses how immigrants are “not competeing with native-born workers, but provide our economy with different skills… as they are complements to native-born workers” (240). When you think about it, if these immigrants are forced out of the US labor force, American workers are going to demand a higher price for labor (which as we previously discussed in the minimum wage blog) is going to drive up the price of goods. This is certainly not what any American wants, especially during such an economic crisis. By the way, very interesting video that you posted about the flee of immigrants from the US. It will be very interesting to see if immigration continues to decrease is the US as it is clearly a trend we are not familiar with.

    I found this editorial in the Wall Street Journal, which I believes makes some very good points to support my argument. (http://www.opinionjournal.com/editorial/feature.html?id=110008201)

    One of the most important points that is not really mentioned in the textbook is that an economy without these unskilled immigrants would ultimately make the US less competitive since we would have less human capital.

    A second point that I found relevant was that unskilled immigrants not only increase the supply of labor but also the demand. They create jobs by consuming goods and buying houses in the US.

    Finally, the author of the editorial argues, “Seal the border, and what you’d see is not the same number of jobs at higher wages but, rather, fewer of these types of jobs overall in the U.S. This is certainly the case in parts of Europe, where some services (such as dry cleaning) are rare and cost a fortune.”
    I think the point made here also goes back to the competitive nature of the United States. Even if some of this competition happens to be with a small percentage of low skilled Americans, I think it is fair to argue that these immigrants are helping our economy.

    • jinc1019

      You brought up the interesting and commonly-held belief that Americans will not do the “dirty jobs” done by these immigrants. I agree. However, you also mentioned they won’t do the jobs because of the low salary associated with it, not because of the difficulty of the work. I also agree. Where I disagree is your conclusion. If there were no immigrants doing these jobs, and they truly are jobs that need to be done, then wouldn’t the salaries for these jobs just go up over time to entice Americans to take them?

      • speltzer

        Interesting point-my response to your comment that the salaries for these jobs will go up over time is- maybe, maybe not. The problem is that if Americans demand a higher salary for these “dirty jobs” then the added cost is going to have to be provided by extra funding. Where is this added money coming from? Well, most likely you and me- consumers and taxpayers. Prices will rise or businesses will no longer be able to afford the new American workers. So in response, yes it is possible for the salaries to increase overtime if there were not immigrants doing the jobs- but at a cost. Since this argument is about whether or not unskilled immigrants hurt our economy, I would still have to say no as they keep labor and prices at a low cost.

      • jzinn3

        In the 20 years I have lived in my neighborhood filled with teenagers, only ONCE have I been approached by an industrious kid asking if I would like my lawn mowed. Is this a cultural thing today? Are parents giving such great allowances that teens no longer have to do odd jobs? Or is this too ‘dirty’? By the time I was 11, I was cutting three yards a week @ $5 each. In 1977, that was big money!

      • Vivienne C. econ2009

        You touch on the part I didn’t touch on in my posts (just wrote another one which is being moderated at the moment) below.

        On page 230, Malanga mentions about “a shortage of ppl willing to do low-wage work” and on page 234, gardeners who cut grass…
        I agree w/you. Yeah, some “jobs need to be done.” I lived in the apt in Stony Point, located in front of Dick’s/the Stony Point Fashion Park for one year from 2007-2008. While my brief stay there, I noticed that EVERY TIME it was Hispanic workers who cut the grass. (And I also noticed that the janitors at Stony Pt. Fashion park were ALL Hispanic (or Mexican resembling) by race. It’s likely that that’s still the same case, even though I haven’t been there much the last couple of months. I guess, I’m more of an advocate of open immigration than not…

        Oh this reminds me of something I forgot to mention in my posts…
        A lot of wealthy people and politicians who have housekeepers, maids, gardeners, etc. well, most of the workers are Hispanics or workers w/a Hispanic or Mexican accent by race. Interesting… In short, I’d say that they are contributing to the economy and that they’re also “complements” and not necessarily substitutes. If low-skilled native-born workers feel threatened by them then they can always get more education or get training they need to be more competitive.

    • kb3na

      You bring up some very good points. I do have a personal issue with the idea that immigrants take the jobs that native-born Americans do not want. In my years of construction, I have seen many trades taken over by immigrants. Trades like painting, carpentry, drywall, insulating, etc. use to provide a middle-class living for the workers employed. I have seen a major shift in the last twenty years of who is doing the work. Whether you agree or disagree with this topic, there have been many middle-class families dropped to lower class while the immigrants standard of living increases. Is that fair? It depends on if you are the tradesman, the immigrant, or the business owner.
      Each will most likely have a different opinion.

      • Sara

        I love the last thing you said because it is so true. Perspective changes everything!

      • jzinn3

        Kenny, thank you for bringing your personal perspective to the discussion. In your observation, why is it that these native-born tradesmen are being replaced by immigrants? Is it that they are willing to accept less pay? Fewer benefits?

      • kb3na

        To answer your question, both the lower pay and typically NO benefits is why the native-born Americans are being replaced. My support for capitalism says this is just good business sense while my support for the American worker says it is wrong. I have more of an issue with the illegal immigrants that are taking these jobs. As far as legal immigrants, if they are not breaking the law, they have rights also.

        I bring this up because I have been on these job sites and witnessed first hand what is going on. I must also mention the safety issues that come up due to language barriers. I have seen crews of 20+ with only 1 English speaking person. Their job is to translate the foreman’s orders from English to Spanish. There have been many accidents because of this barrier. If an electrician asks a person working near an electrical panel “don’t turn that breaker on because I am working on that circuit” and he does it anyway because he or she doesn’t understand English, this poses a serious threat.

        I was working on a job a few years ago when a bricklayer was paralyzed after a window fell several stories and landed on him. The insulators had been warned not to to place their ladder against the inside of the window. An insulator, who did not speak English, placed a ladder against the window and it fell on the worker below. This was a VERY BIG window that you see in high-rise office buildings.

        Within minutes the general contractor had placed signs up, in Spanish, that read “DO NOT REST LADDER ON WINDOW.” In case you are wondering, it was only done because they knew OSHA was on the way. It is easy to point the finger at the bricklayer for working under the window or the window installer for not having the window totally secured but the fact is…the insulator was told and he did not understand.

        Finally, I have had this discussion with many people who say “they only take the jobs Americans don’t want.” Many who say this are in industries that are not typically hurt by this. For example, not many executives or CEOs are having their jobs taken by immigrants so they have no vested interest in what is going on in the construction industry.

  3. jinc1019

    My greatest concern regarding illegal immigration is the cost of the crime, health care, and schooling that comes along with it. Some states even provide government housing for non-citizens. Also, I just thought I would throw this out there but, what about the morality of letting people work for less than the minimum wage? Hiding in fear, often working in unfavorable and illegal conditions, and being forced into extreme poverty. Shouldn’t we consider this?

    • jzinn3

      So even though companies may be earning greater profits and consumers may be paying lower prices as the result of immigrant labor, there are external costs in the form of healthcare, crime and education. This is why Australia is known for its strict immigration laws.

  4. Vivienne C. econ2009

    Pre Script: It’s 20 minutes to 12 midnight and I want to say something and post ASAP to get the much needed credit… I had way too much work to be content today and I couldn’t finish reading Issue 12 in full. I’ll be honest w/you all. I will write more thoughtful comment tom’w/later.

    I just read the short post Issue 12 and saw the video. In short, I have a positive opinion of legal immigrant workers, in general. (Illegal immigrant workers are for another day…) I think they contribute more and they are (over all) beneficial to the U.S. economy.
    I read an article awhile ago similar to this one found at: http://www.usatoday.com/news/nation/2008-02-11-population-study_N.htm (Entitled: U.S. Hispanic population to triple by 2050).
    I think we all know by now (by shopping at places like Wal-mart, etc.) that the Hispanic population is slowly but surely growing. Most of the Hispanic people hold janitorial jobs (Go to Stony Point Fashion Park, Short pump, etc. and be a little more observant/ see for yourself :) and be your own judge.) This is helping the U.S. economy. I’m not saying that all Hispanic people have the same jobs. There are well-educated people like Sonia Sotomayor, the Supreme Court candidate (and lots of others) who come from an immigrant family and worked her way up by studying and working hard despite life’s obstacles and hardships.
    Sorry, my impromptu example is not so perfect but at least it supports my point which is that most immigrants help the U.S. economy or at the very least, they contribute positively more than negatively. Speaking of contributing negatively… I think illegal immigrants are more at fault for the bad rep than the legal immigrants, in general.

    Most of the immigrants (regardless of their ethnicity/racial background) are hard-working and they own businesses, etc. Again, in short, they help the U.S. economy.

    I’m sure I’ll have more better or substantial things to say later/tom’w. The clock is ticking (4 mins to midnight) so I’ll stop here for now. I remember reading a CQ article entitled “No child left behind” some months ago, and I’ll prob touch on that article a bit.

  5. jinc1019

    I agree with many aspects of Mr. Malinga’s argument regarding immigration. With that said, I think it is extremely difficult to weigh the benefits and costs of immigration. For every source I found supporting its economic advantages, I found another stating it was the worst thing America could possibly do for its workers. Therefore, I would like to focus more on the indirect costs of immigration.

    For instance, many of the 700,000 to 900,000 immigrants that come here legally every year, as well as the hundreds of thousands of illegal immigrants, do so without a way to have health insurance. Because of this, taxpayers are forced to pay the bill for those who are not even Americans. Further, hospitals, which often have to pay for portions of the cost themselves may offset this by raising the price of going to their medical facilities, which hurts Americans who are actually able to pay their own bills.

    Immigrants do provide cheap labor while occupying jobs Americans do not want. But why do Americans choose not to take these jobs? Is it because they are labor intensive? Partially. Americans occupy many labor jobs, however, that are difficult and labor intensive. The real reason why Americans won’t take the jobs immigrants take is because those jobs have poor salaries. If, hypothetically, there were very few immigrants and Americans were not willing to take the jobs “Americans won’t do”, then those employers would simply raise the salaries for those jobs to bring in workers. This is the very essence of capitalism. By allowing overwhelming immigration, we have created several job markets that do not allow for higher wages.

    Education is also a major issue. Children of immigrants are entitled to an education, especially if they are born in America. Because of this, you have many kids in public schools that cannot speak English or that need special services. Unfortunately, this means schools need more specialists and require more taxpayer dollars.

    Finally, it’s also important to note that immigration leads to crime, especially drug crime. Drug gangs from Mexico enter the United States both legally and illegally. Here is a link to my blog where two videos are posted on these issues, including a good video on the cost of illegal immigration: http://justinhaskins.wordpress.com/2009/07/08/lou-dobbs-discusses-cost-of-illegal-immigration/

    Further, is it even ethical to allow people into our country knowing they will be unable to afford health care and will be forced to work in conditions that are often poor?

    • Vivienne C. econ2009

      WORD!
      I thinks so, too. It’s extremely difficult to weigh conclusively and accurately the true benefits and costs of immigration. Well-said!

  6. Kristen

    I found myself challenged by Mr. Malanga’s comments. I’m an avid reader of City Journal, and usually agree with at least some of their analysis. To my surprise, this case was no exception. Probably because of my love for history and my family roots as immigrants, I’ve always been of the opinion that we should give everyone a chance in our nation. The “American dream” should live on as it always has, adding cultures and peoples to the mix freely, as Jeb Bush describes here: (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wtcLWrt9NeI). However, Malanga pointed out some of the differences between traditional immigration and that we’re seeing today. If the cost cannot be sustained, then perhaps changes are in order. I need to further consider the proposal to limit immigration to “likely contributors” to our economy. How can we predict what the second and third generations could bring to the table?

    I agree that the numbers were somewhat ambiguous, and definitely used to effect. I found a report released by the Labor Department which said that in 2005, legal and illegal immigrants made up 15 percent of the U.S. work force. The number was even higher in Texas, at 21%. I also found some survey results by the Pew Hispanic Center highlighting significantly lower unemployment levels among foreign born persons: Table 26- Industry by Region of Birth: 2007 (http://pewhispanic.org/factsheets/factsheet.php?FactsheetID=45). Average median income was only $4K lower for foreigners, poverty level was MUCH lower, and educational level was lower (43.6% vs. 55.9% finished high school).

    Even if wages are driven down for our native workers, productivity is high. And the job is getting done. One owner of multiple restaurants said he used to be opposed to hiring immigrant workers but now embraces them after being let down by American workers.

    “When someone was hired for cleanup work, he lasted two days. The next lasted one day. The next lasted three. [He] eventually turned to a Mexican worker.

    ‘We hired him, and he is still with me today, and that has been 20 years ago,” Ford said. “I’d be in real hard shape without the folks that I have.’

    He said all his kitchen crew members at J. Gilligan’s in Arlington are immigrants. They have the characteristics that many other employers find so appealing…they are punctual and hardworking.”
    (http://patrickjmcgee.wordpress.com/2009/05/13/do-immigrants-take-jobs-or-hurt-the-economy-even-the-best-economist-cant-agree/)

    I’ve also been challenged by the burden on our educational system. Few teachers are prepared to support a bilingual classroom, and hiring extra aides is costly. Kids learn fast, but if teachers aren’t able to communicate they lose valuable instruction time. And handicap the rest of their class. With widespread integration of immigrants throughout the country, this is not an isolated problem.

    • jzinn3

      Your point regarding the classroom is well taken. Last spring I had the opportunity to volunteer in an elementary school with a large Hispanic population. Fortunately, the teachers and administrators were largely up to the challenge. Truly striking to me was the transient nature of the Hispanic community. One day the kids are in school, the next they have packed up and moved on to someplace else.

    • Vivienne C. econ2009

      I find Hispanic workers hard-working, BTW. I can agree w/what you shared in the mid of your post.

      Regarding bilingual classroom, yeah, hiring extra aides is very costly.
      I wasn’t born in the US and when family moved to NY from Seoul on Feb. 15, 1989 (It was a Wednesday I still remember!), I was admitted to two ESL classes in Elem. school in NY. I didn’t have a bilingual ESL teacher at that time and I think that was rather a good thing. When I first arrived at the JFK Airport, the only English words I knew how to speak well were “Excuse me, Thank you, etc “. Anyhoo, I do think that having a bilingual teacher would be more beneficial to some students. Students learn things differently (some are visual learners, some not, etc.) and at diff’t rates and perhaps the key lies within individualized or personalized method of teaching/learning… I don’t know. It’s just a thought. I’m not a teacher but I do think teaching is a noble and a VERY rewarding profession! They should get paid more!

  7. Vivienne C. econ2009

    Sorry, I didn’t get a chance to write the following late last night. Mid week is the busiest time of the week for me…
    To make up for the delay/my tardiness I will try to write as thoroughly as possible on the issue of immigrants and their role in the economy. I hope you get to read in full and let me know what you think and share your comments/thoughts, etc.

    When I was reading Malanga’s answer (p. 230-238) to the question, “Do unskilled immigrants hurt the economy?” I had to make notes on the margins. There were statements which I both agreed (very little tho’ ) and disagreed (quite a lot). I like the way Furchtgott-Roth’s opposing answer is written, BTW. It’s well-organized and presented. Between pages 239-241, I couldn’t help but put check marks in the margins. In short, I agree with Roth’s counter arguments or statements to the ones made by Malanga. Here are my reasons and I’ll briefly share what I put in the margins of my copy of the text.

    First, in response to Malanga’s answer or statements. I have to completely disagree (respectfully, of course) with the sentence written in the middle paragraph on page 231 “… because they have so little to offer, are likely to cost us more than they contribute…” Before I say something else and forget, I need to mention that Malanga mentions about illegal and legal immigrants at the same time. Therefore, because of the confusing manner in which he presents the data and figures through out pgs 230-238, it’s easy to fool the readers into thinking that the info and data he reports as evidence are sufficiently supportive evidence when, in fact, that’s not quite true. I’m sure if you look up City Journal Summer 2006 issue then you can verify the data he provides. .. Without verifying all data/info or facts both Malanga and Roth share in their answers, I have to say what Roth shares/reports makes more sense to me. Over all, in my opinion, what Roth mentions in her answer is a better or more accurate reflection or description of things or sub-issues discussed throughout the pages that fall under issue 12.
    BTW, while reading Malanga’s answer, I couldn’t help but think that he should’ve BETTER presented his answer just by separating the issue of unskilled immigrants and their negative role in the economy. If he had separately presented two sub-issues, for example 1) unskilled LEGAL immigrants and then 2) unskilled ILLEGAL immigrants and THEN subdivide accordingly to demographics (i.e. race, age, etc.) I thought this and say this now because if you read carefully the data he provides for diff. groups, his answer would’ve been a “No.” As Roth mentions, Malanga speaks favorable of the Asian immigrants and their children. Malanga mentions a lot about the Hispanic or Mexican immigrants. I just think that if he wanted to convince the readers effectively into thinking that yes, unskilled immigrants (whether illegal or legal or Mexican or any other ethnic minority group/race, etc) hurt the economy and take jobs from Native-born Americans then he probably could’ve done a better job by categorizing or organizing his analyses of the data he reports as evidence. He kind of flip-flops. If you reorganize the data/figures and categorize by race then his answers to the question is both a Yes AND a no (i.e. He doesn’t think Asian Immigrants hurt the economy, etc.). I’m sure all of you are aware that data/stats/ numbers, etc. can be manipulated. (You can “lie” with Statistics and I think there is even a book on this subject even). Now, I’m not insinuating that Malanga manipulated any data or conveniently selected certain info that’s useful to back up his points he made in his answer… I didn’t check the citation or investigate/verify/double check any of the info or figures he provides so I couldn’t conclusively say much on this. However, Roth points out something on page 240 at the bottom of the page, “Yet this study contains estimates from 1995, more than a decade ago…” Roth prob had the time to double check certain facts/figures before publishing an article in The New York Sun in Sept 2006. (Usually, people who make counter arguments, they do a thorough investigation before they publicly say, in writing especially, that someone (i.e. competitor, etc.) is wrong or the facts presented is mis-interpreted, skewed, manipulated, etc.

    Going back to how much immigrants contribute, I will say more about later/below. Let me just say this before I go on. In general, I have a positive opinion of immigration. Most immigrants who CHOOSE to come to America (or Canada, wherever), they come to work hard and do something worthwhile w/their lives. (I’m not including potential terrorists or the like). Most Asian immigrants I know, work hard and their children work very hard to be competitive in many aspects of their lives. I know most Jewish immigrants are hard-working, as well. Sorry I’m not familiar with Mexican or Hispanic immigrants or their work ethic, personally. One of the reasons WHY I think immigrants (legal immigrants) are important (or at Roth puts it “complements) to the economy is if you look at the history of America, those high-rise buildings and main bridges in major cities like NYC/Manhattan, were built decades ago by immigrant workers. During the industrial revolution, most workers were non-native construction or immigrant workers (not sure if they were legal or illegals) who helped build rail roads, highways, factories, etc. who helped build the basic backbones of infrastructure. In other words, immigrant workers played a major /POSITIVE role in the economy on many levels over the years. I happen to come from a hard-working immigrant family. Unless you are of Native American heritage, I’m sure either you also come from a family of immigrants. Your great-grandparents or grandparents were immigrants in their generations. I’m currently reading “The Snowball. Warren Buffett and the Business of Life” by Alice Schroeder (the best biography of WB written to date! Very thorough and well-researched. I highly recommend it) It says “John Buffett, the first known Buffett in the New World, was a serge weaver believed to be of French Huguenot descent. He fled to America in the 17th century to escape religious persecution and settled in Huntington, LI as a farmer…” (Schroeder, 37) The book goes on to talk about WB’s ancestry, etc. Alan Greenspan, for instance, in his book “The Age of Turbulence” says, “Both sides of my family, the Greenspans and the Goldsmiths, arrived at the turn of the century, the Greenspans from Romania and the Goldsmiths from Hungary” (Greenspan, 19). If you took a look at the 60 minutes video clip I recommended the other day, you know that Ben Shalom Bernanke’s grand-father, Jonas Benbernanke, immigrated from Eastern Europe in 1941. Why is Vivienne mentioning all this? She has a point to make and it proves that immigration is a good thing (over all, despite the minor criticisms) and helps the economy in the long-run. I can go on and on and provide examples like these but you get the point. In short, w/o the immigrants and the CHILDREN of the immigrants from all over the world, America would not be as diverse, vibrant, etc. today. We wouldn’t not have intelligent people like WB, AG, or BB who are considered as valuable assets and contributors. If their grandparents or great-great grandparents have not decided to immigrate to the U. S., we would not have good people like them and many many countless others. (WB, is a Philanthropist, above all, and what he alone does for the economy and people less fortunate with the Gates Foundation) is worth mentioning. One lucky bidder agreed to pay $1.68 MILLION (!!!) for a steak lunch with WB in a charity auction recently and he is donating the money to the Glide Foundation. I’d say this is helping the economy, wouldn’t you? Not enough Billionaires are philanthropic or have the ability do something like this. Some choose to give their dog their entire fortune upon death even which is money not well spent, in my opinion. OK, enough w/this/dont’ want to get too carried away)

    Roth on page 240, Roth emphasizes that immigrants are complements rather than substitutes for native-born workers and that they’re not competing w/native-born workers but providing our economy w/ diff’t skills, etc. I couldn’t agree more. She goes on to talk about U-shaped and bell-shaped curves. When I read this part, I couldn’t help but think of “Outliers: The story of success.” The author talks about Bill Gates and that he’s an exemplary outlier. If you look at any symmetric unimodal histogram (w/one single peak, not 2 which would be bi-modal, 3 or more: multimodal, etc) what Roth mentions regarding the skills of native-born Americans, makes sense. I haven’t seen the bell curse she talks about and I don’t know anything about native-born American workers but I’d think or we can all imagine that the curve or histogram would reflect the info she provided in the mid of the page (few H.S. drop outs on one end of the spectrum and few Ph.Ds. on the opposite end).
    Sorry I’m writing WAY more than I had initially anticipated. Let me just say one last thing… or share, rather. Let me give you one last GOOD :) example. If you’re still reading. I really appreciate your time. Thanks! Finish reading.
    Her name is Mrs. B or Rose Blumkin. You might have heard or read about her in WB biographies. In “The Snowball” refer to Ch. 44. It’s a very good story. She not as well known or famous as WB, AG, or BB or the like. If you’re pressed for time then get a “watered-down” version at :

    She was someone who only had an elementary level education (4th grade or something), didn’t know how to read and write and worked overtime and well into her 90’s non-stop! Incredible!
    She was an immigrant from Russia (the book says, “Tiny village of Shchedrin, in the region of Minsk” (Schroeder, 491) who settled in Omaha, Nebraska, and eventually operated the Nebraska Furniture Mart successfully before she sold it to WB. She then later opened another furniture mart, which you can read more about in the book in your leisure. This is my final point. According to the standards set by or judged by (whatever! : ) Malanga, she is considered as an “unskilled and low-wage immigrant.” But look what she was able/capable of achieving in her lifetime? She sure helped the local economy in Omaha, NE! That furniture mart was 2nd largest then they must have employed thousands of workers. I suppose I can go on and provide examples… In short/conclusion, I want to say that immigration helps the economy more than it harms (if any). Moreover, diversity is a good thing.
    America is a very heterogeneous, multicultural, multi-ethnic, diverse, etc. country. I like that we can embrace many many different cultures in one country. Most college admissions officers prefer/value diversity and I like we have different people w/ many many different opinions to offer and share. Now, crimes committed by illegal immigrants and other sub issues… that’s entirely ANTHER DAY, if you ask me. In life, bad always comes with the good. Right? Thanks again for reading in full. Appreciate your time very much guys! Hope I was able to contribute as much as I had hoped/wanted.

    Citation:

    Greenspan, Alan. The Age of Turbulence. New York: The Penguin Press, 2007.

    Schroeder, Alice. The Snowball. Warren Buffett and the Busines of Life. New York: Random House (Bantham) Press, 2008.

    (Not sure how to cite I’net sources correctly off the top of my head… sorry)
    Ben Bernanke, the Chairman (Part 2) 60 Minutes
    http://www.cbsnews.com/video/watch/?id=5069653n&tag=cbsnewsMainColumnArea.5

  8. Vivienne C. econ2009

    Forgot to share the following. I know we have TODAY’s Issue 13 to get to, myself included but do take a look at this website when you get a chance as a supplement to Malanga’s answer… (Entitled: Increasing the Supply of Labor Through Immigration: Measuring the Impact of Native-born Workers by George Borjas (Prob the same Harvard Economist Borjas Malanga cites…)

    http://www.cis.org/node/238
    and scroll down. Pay attention to “Impact Across Skill Group”

    Also, below that you’ll find “Figure 3. Impact of 1980-2000 Immigrant Influx on Wage of Native Workers, by Race.” Hispanic: 5.0%, Black 4.5%, White 3.5%, Asian 3.1%, and All Natives 3.7%.

    It says, “the adverse impact of immigration is LARGEST for the most disadvantaged native-born minorities” (Lamb, 37).

    ~~~~~~~~
    I happened to read this yesterday before my MKTG class.. it’s about the “Growing Ethnic Mkts” and I’ll briefly share about the Hispanic mkt since that’s more relevant to today’s (or yesterday’s :) topic).

    “Hispanics are America’s largest minority group w/ 14.4 % of the population, followed by Afrian Americans (13.4%) and Asian Americans (4.9%). In 2008, Hispanics wielded more than $1 trillion in spending power (while Af. Ams topped $921 B, Asian Ams’ spending power soared to $526 B).

    The fig. (by U.S. Census Bureau) provided says, in 2000 Hispanic population was 12% and in 2050, it’s expected to be 24%. (White pop’n is expected to shrinks from 71% (in 2000) to 53% in 2050. Hispanic pop’n is expected to grow at the fastest rate!
    Now, with respect to what Malanga says… if America is expected to have millions of additional Librado VelasquezeS in the future (i.e. in 2050) then the concerns raised by Malanga and Borjas, etc, or et al, today or in recent years are, indeed, quite concerning or worrisome, and it’s urgent that people or the gov’t should do something about controlling the future Hispanic population in the U.S.
    Or, as mentioned on pg 237 (mid of the pg) any of the economic incentives should be restricted or limited. Everything in MODERATION is good (in life, whether it’s population/ethnic groups, sugar or coffee intake, etc.), in my opinion.

    Lastly, as the embedded Youtube video clip reports, some immigrants (Hispanic) are leaving the U.S. and going back home. I had heard of something similar on TV some months ago. The current bad state of the economy is doing some good, at least. Lastly, I think it’s important to acknowledge that there are plenty of hard-working Hispanic people in the U.S. (i.e. Sonia Sotomayor, etc)

    Lamb, C., Hair, J., and McDaniel, C. MKTG3. Ohio: South-Western, 2009.

    Lastly, take a look at yesterday’s CBS News w/ Katie Couric online if you haven’t already at:
    http://www.cbsnews.com/video/watch/?id=5145615n

    Watch CBS Videos Online

    They talked about the Stimulus plan (pay attention to what Jill S. says regarding Tax payer’s $$ money!) , unemployment rate, bottled water, and the last piece on self-less “children of the recession” was quite moving.

  9. ramon

    this is a tricky subject because on one hand i feel that foreign immigrants should have an opportunity to migrate to america and find jobs and become productive. on the other hand you have the latino and hispanic communities that are more prone to migrate to america because they are our neighbors. i find this interesting because like professor zinn said, nobody wants to get down and dirty anymore on curtain jobs and if you have immergrants that are willing to work these dirty jobs then why not give them a job. some friends of mine are not willing to work at mcdonalds or cut grass for money and this is our problem. i feel that we can’t complain about immergrants if we are not willing to do the types of jobs that immergrants do.
    some of us from america go to other countries to work for them and help build their nations why can’t they do the same with us. the new federal counthouse being built in the central downtown area is already showing signs of cracking in the frame work and is having other problems now should we blame this on the number of unskilled immergrants that where hire to assist with the job
    or should we not?
    i actually agree with Diana Roth because some if not most immergrants are helpful but we should do a better job in training them if this is the case.
    everybody starts out as an unskilled worker but after the proper training is applied we either become skilled or fired.

  10. ramon

    i don’t want to contradict myself but i do have a problem with them leaving because of the economic problems we are facing, why not stick around and help us get through this. so you migrate here when we are doing good but you leave when the going gets tough, this sounds like a bad marriage. i feel that the ones that leave when it gets tough should not come backand they should stay where they are.
    just think of a friend who comes around when you are doing good and as soon as you hit rock bottom your friend has deserted you and that is what this lsituation looks like.

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