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Immigration and Competition

Aug 11, 2017

Critics of immigration often claim that an influx of immigrants will take jobs away from native-born workers and depress salaries for everyone. Most economists agree that this is not the case. Immigrants often create jobs by starting their own businesses. And while in the host country, immigrants participate in the local economy, which means more customers for local businesses. A 2015 analysis by two university researchers, for instance, suggested that each immigrant in a community was responsible for the creation of 1.2 new jobs, many of which went to native-born workers.

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Immigrants often fill lower-paying jobs, leading to suspicions that their willingness to work for less may depress salaries for native-born workers. But studies show that immigrant and native workers vie for different kinds of low-skilled jobs, which means that immigrants are more in competition with other immigrants than with native-born workers. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, immigrants generally earn less than native-born workers, although immigrants with a college degree or higher earn slightly more on average than similarly-educated native-born workers.

Immigrants are noted as a major source of innovation in business — some of this comes from competing with businesses run by native-born entrepreneurs, but much of it involves working to creating new kinds of companies and industries, providing benefits for workers, consumers and the economy as a whole.

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