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WEEK+15+-+Undocumented+Workers (1)

WEEK+15+-+Undocumented+Workers (1) - 2008 Five Facts About...

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F A C T S H E E T 2008 Five Facts About Undocumented Workers in the United States w w w . n c l r . o r g Background More than 15% of U.S. workers were born in other countries. While two-thirds of foreign- born workers have authorization to work in the U.S., 5.2% of the American labor force is undocumented. 1 In fact, the influx of undocumented immigrants accounted for about half of the growth in the labor force over the last decade. 2 The largest share of undocumented immigrants is of Latin American origin; in 2005, 56% of undocumented immigrants came from Mexico alone. 3 The strong participation of undocumented workers in the U.S. labor market is undeniable. Possibly numbering 7.8 million workers, their presence is a clear illustration of the imbalance between the nation’s immigration system and current economic realities. 4 The facts below challenge some common myths about undocumented immigrants. 1. Undocumented Workers and U.S. Workers Although immigration’s effect on the labor market is largely neutral, a vulnerable second-class workforce is emerging. Concerns about the impact of immigrants on the U.S. labor market are not new. From the mid-20th century to the present, scholars have investigated if and how immigration affects the wages and employment of native-born workers. Potential effects of undocumented immigration are difficult to measure; nevertheless, economists have studied various geographical areas and time periods to try to capture economic reactions to different types of immigrants. Although there is no absolute consensus, many studies reveal that immigration has little to no negative impact on native-born workers. 5 Even for workers who are thought to compete directly with immigrants – workers with the lowest educational levels, for example – the most extreme estimates reveal only minor, if any, wage declines due to increased immigration. 6 Workers whose wages suffer the most from undocumented immigration appear to be other foreign- born workers. 7 In contrast, certain evidence suggests that some workers’ wages benefit from immigration; one national study found that a doubled immigrant labor force between 1990 and 2004 boosted the wages of native-born high school graduates and college graduates by 0.7% to 3.4%. 8 Most employers and economists agree that undocumented immigrants fill important gaps in the U.S. labor market. As native- The National Council of La Raza (NCLR) – the largest national Hispanic civil rights and advocacy organization in the United States – works to improve opportunities for Hispanic Americans. Contact Catherine Singley at [email protected] for more information.
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NCLR Page 2 Fact Sheet Five Facts About Undocumented Workers in the United States born workers become better educated and more mobile, 9 the productivity of undocumented immigrants in low-wage jobs creates positive spillover effects in the economy.
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WEEK+15+-+Undocumented+Workers (1) - 2008 Five Facts About...

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