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Immigration and Unemployment

Tennessee: Immigrant Entrepreneurs, Innovation, and Welcoming Initiatives in the Volunteer State

In Tennessee, there is no doubt that immigrant entrepreneurs and innovators play an important role. Immigrant entrepreneurs bring in additional revenue, create jobs, and contribute significantly to the state’s economy. Highly skilled immigrants are vital to the state’s innovation industries and to the metropolitan areas within the state, helping to boost local economies. Furthermore, local government, business, and non-profit leaders recognize the importance of immigrants in their communities and support immigration through local “welcoming” and integration initiatives.

Immigrant entrepreneurs contribute significantly to Tennessee’s economy.

  • From 2006 to 2010, there were 15,369 new immigrant business owners in Tennessee, and in 2010, 7.2 percent of all business owners in Tennessee were foreign-born.
  • In 2010, new immigrant business owners had total net business income of $851 million, which is 5.6 percent of all net business income in the state.
  • Tennessee is home to many successful companies with at least one founder who was an immigrant or child of an immigrant, including International Paper. This company, which ranks 111th in the 2012 Fortune 500, employs 60,000 people worldwide, including 2,000 at its headquarters in Memphis.

Highly skilled immigrants are vital to Tennessee’s innovation industries, which in turn helps lead American innovation and creates jobs.Read more...

Published On: Tue, Jul 02, 2013 | Download File

The Economic Blame Game: Immigration and Unemployment

Contrary to the claims of critics, the immigration bill now winding its way through the Senate would not add to the ranks of the unemployed. In fact, both the legalization and “future flow” provisions of the bill would empower immigrant workers to spend more, invest more, and pay more in taxes—all of which would create new jobs. Put differently, employment is not a “zero sum” game in which workers compete for some fixed number of jobs. All workers are also consumers, taxpayers, and—in many cases—entrepreneurs who engage in job-creating economic activity every day.

Nevertheless, one of the most persistent myths about the economics of immigration is that every immigrant added to the U.S. labor force amounts to a job lost by a native-born worker, or that every job loss for a native-born worker is evidence that there is need for one less immigrant worker. However, this is not how labor-force dynamics work in the real world. The notion that unemployed natives could simply be “swapped” for employed immigrants is not economically valid. In reality, native workers and immigrant workers are not easily interchangeable. Even if unemployed native workers were willing to travel across the country or take jobs for which they are overqualified, that is hardly a long-term strategy for economic recovery.

There is no direct correlation between immigration and unemployment.Read more...

Published On: Wed, Jun 12, 2013 | Download File

Allies, Not Enemies: How Latino Immigration Boosts African American Employment and Wages

Strauss Thumb

By Jack Strauss

A comprehensive analysis of Census data from hundreds of U.S. metropolitan areas indicate that immigration from Latin America improves wages and job opportunities for African Americans. This analysis serves to dispel the common myth that African Americans are negatively impacted by the immigration of less-skilled workers from Mexico and elsewhere in Latin America. It is often assumed that Latino immigrants and African Americans are locked in ruinous competition for the same jobs, resulting in lower wages and higher unemployment rates for African Americans. In fact, Latino immigrants and African Americans fill complementary roles in the labor market—they are not simply substitutes for one another. In addition, cities which have suffered the effects of declining population are rejuvenated by an inflow of Latino immigrants who increase the labor force, tax base, consumer base, etc. To the extent that there really is a “black-brown” divide, it is rooted in politics and perception—not economics.Read more...

Published On: Wed, Jun 12, 2013 | Download File

AIC Executive Director Ben Johnson's Testimony Before the House Judiciary Committee

Mr. Chairman and members of the committee, thank you for the opportunity to appear before you today and provide testimony on behalf of the American Immigration Council. The American Immigration Council is a non-profit educational foundation which for 25 years has been dedicated to increasing public understanding of immigration law and policy and the role of immigration in American society.

Today’s hearing on “Enhancing American Competitiveness through Skilled Immigration” provides an opportunity to engage in a thoughtful conversation about the role that immigration can and should play in building a 21st century America that prospers and grows. Prosperity is a shared goal that unites us all, and offers an important lens through which to evaluate the vital role immigration plays in our economy today, as well as the necessity of retooling our outdated and hopelessly broken immigration system. As we do so, however, it is critical for us to recognize that skilled immigration encompasses a wide range of individuals with very different educational and occupational backgrounds. Moreover, the talent we seek very often comes to these shores not only through employment-based channels of immigration, but through family reunification, the admission of refugees and asylees, and can even be found within the current population of unauthorized workers.Read more...

Published On: Tue, Mar 05, 2013 | Download File

Always in Demand: The Economic Contributions of Immigrant Scientists and Engineers

With the U.S. economy in the midst of a prolonged slump, it’s hard to believe that any industry would actually benefit from having more workers. But that is precisely the case when it comes to those industries which depend upon highly skilled scientists and engineers. The United States has long faced a dilemma in this respect: the U.S. economy is capable of absorbing more high-tech professionals than the U.S. educational system produces. That is one reason so many U.S. scientists and engineers are immigrants. In “STEM” occupations (science, technology, engineering, and mathematics), the foreign-born account for 26.1 percent of workers with PhDs and 17.7 percent of those with master’s degrees. Even more U.S. scientists and engineers would be immigrants if not for the arbitrary limits imposed by the U.S. immigration system, particularly the inadequate supply of green cards and H-1B visas. Given that STEM professionals tend to create jobs through their innovative work, such limits are economically self-defeating.

Immigrant scientists and engineers create new jobs.Read more...

Published On: Mon, Mar 04, 2013 | Download File

Employment-Based Immigration to the United States: A Fact Sheet

U.S. law provides employers with several limited ways to bring foreign workers into the U.S. on a temporary or permanent basis. Employment-based immigration visa categories generally have limited and static numerical caps. In addition, before petitioning for a foreign worker, an employer is often required to obtain certification from the Department of Labor (DOL) that there are no U.S. workers available, willing, and qualified to fill the position at a wage that is equal to or greater than the prevailing wage generally paid for that occupation in the geographic area where the position is located. The purpose of this restriction is to demonstrate that the admission and hiring of foreign workers will not adversely affect the job opportunities, wages, and working conditions of U.S. workers.    Read more...

Published On: Tue, Mar 29, 2011 | Download File

The Racial Blame Game

Immigrants Are Not the Cause of High Unemployment and Low Wages Among Minority Workers

Some observers have suggested that immigrants are to blame for the high unemployment rates and low wages experienced by so many minority workers in the United States.  However, the best available evidence suggests that immigration is not the cause of dismal employment prospects for American minorities.  For instance, cities experiencing the highest levels of immigration tend to have relatively low or average unemployment rates for African Americans.  This should come as no surprise; immigrants go where jobs are more plentiful.  The grim job market which confronts many minority workers is the product of numerous economic and social factors: the decline of factory employment, the deindustrialization of inner cities, racial discrimination, etc.  Immigration plays a very small role.  However, that role is generally positive.  Immigrant workers, consumers, and entrepreneurs help to create jobs and give a slight boost to the wages of the vast majority of native-born workers.  Some unscrupulous employers do exploit undocumented immigrants to the detriment of wages and working conditions for both native-born workers and legal immigrants.  But the most practical solution to this problem is an earned legalization program for undocumented immigrants and stronger worksite enforcement of wage and labor laws.

Immigrants are not the cause of minority unemployment.Read more...

Published On: Tue, Mar 01, 2011 | Download File

Not In Competition: Immigrants and Native-Born Workers

High levels of unemployment have led some to propagate the myth that every immigrant added to the U.S. labor force amounts to a job lost by a native-born worker, or that every job loss for a native-born worker is evidence that there is need for one less immigrant worker. In fact, this has been the rationale behind any number of harsh legislative proposals targeting immigrants. These kinds of proposals may be appealing politically, but they reflect dangerously simplistic assumptions about labor-force dynamics. Moreover, such proposals distract from the far more important goal of creating economic policies that generate growth and create jobs for workers across the U.S. labor market. As data from the 2009 Current Population Survey illustrates, most immigrant and native-born workers are not competing with each other in today’s tight job markets.

Published On: Thu, Jun 10, 2010 | Download File

The Economic Blame Game: U.S. Unemployment is Not Caused by Immigration

Today, on Capitol Hill, Congressmen Steve King and Lamar Smith will host a forum on the impact of “illegal immigration on American jobs.” Panelists will likely attempt to draw a direct correlation between U.S. immigration policy and unemployment, just as they do with all other domestic issues including the environment, security and health care. As in the past, their solution is deportation, their tactic is division, their position is the status quo, and their plans neither help American workers or solve our immigration crisis. The Immigration Policy Center (IPC) has developed the following fact check to further debunk claims that U.S. unemployment is caused by immigration.

Read more...

Published On: Thu, Nov 19, 2009 | Download File

Breaking Down the Problems: What's Wrong with Our Current Immigration System?

While some characterize our immigration crisis as solely an issue of the 11 to 12 million unauthorized immigrants living in this country, our problems extend beyond the number of undocumented people to a broader range of issues.

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Published On: Wed, Oct 21, 2009 | Download File