Undocumented Immigration Shown to Have Little Impact on Wages

The Federation for American Immigration Reform’s fact sheet on Arizona highlights these two juxtaposed statements: “Illegal immigrants make up 10% of the workforce in Arizona;” and “Unemployment in Arizona in March 2010 was 9.6%.” FAIR does not explicitly state here why these two points are positioned beside one another, but the argument the organization is making here is clear: An influx of undocumented workers into Arizona’s economy both takes job opportunities away from citizens and drives labor costs down to a level where those authorized to work in this country simply can not compete. However, a new study recently released by the Federal Reserve Bank of Atlanta seriously undermines this logic.

According to the study, the presence of undocumented workers in the U.S. has a negligible impact on the wages paid within a given industry in this country. The study shows that those employed by a company who hires undocumented workers earn annually just .15 percent less than those employed within the same industry by a company that does not hire undocumented individuals. In fact, in some industries, including leisure and hospitality, companies with undocumented workers actually pay their employees more on average than those whose workforce are entirely authorized.

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