The Center for Immigration Studies (CIS) has been releasing a series of reports claiming that immigrants are benefiting from the slightly recovering job market while natives are not. Of course, if immigrants were even less likely to gain jobs than Americans, CIS would use that as evidence that immigrants are a drain on the economy. No matter.
The implicit assumption in CIS’ publications is that if those millions of immigrants weren’t working in the United States, more native-born Americans would have jobs – a static view of the economy. CIS’ fixed pie implication is inappropriate to any kind of reasonable economic analysis of the effects of immigration on the labor market. That is the primary reason why labor economists do not use CIS’ methods when attempting to measure the labor market impacts of immigration. Even if CIS’ numbers were compiled correctly, they are not measuring anything useful.
A large body of academic economic research has found that immigration has a relatively small effect on U.S-born American wages and their employment prospects. For wages impact, the estimates are that immigrants either lower the wages of some American workers by about 2 percent or raise them by about 2 percent in a dynamic economy (this, this, and this). The employment effects vary little but, like wages, the effects are small and clustered around zero. Nowhere will you find a tradeoff where one additional immigrants means that one American loses a job in the economy.
Here are some additional facts you won’t see in CIS’ papers: