September 12, 2023


The US labor market and citizens' views are shifting in favor of immigration (NICK SARGEN,  09/11/23, The Hill)

The case today is even more compelling because of labor shortages related to the COVID-19 pandemic. Prior to the pandemic, net international migration slowed steadily from a peak of 1.2 million in 2016 as a result of measures President Trump took to reduce both legal and illegal immigration. Trump then took further steps to restrict immigration during the onset of the pandemic, including curbing travel to the U.S. and suspending many foreign worker visas and green cards. The administration also invoked the Title 42 public health law to deny asylum on pandemic-related grounds.  

Upon assuming office in January 2021, President Biden overturned many of Trump's immigration policies. As a result, there was a dramatic reversal in the pattern of immigration last year. The U.S. Census Bureau estimates that net immigration to the U.S. fully rebounded from its COVID-19 slump, when immigration fell to the lowest levels in decades. The biggest increases were for work visas and humanitarian migrants.   

The timing of the immigration upturn proved fortuitous: It helped to alleviate some of the impact of labor shortages while the overall unemployment rate has been hovering near a 50-year low. Foreign-born workers have a higher labor force participation rate than U.S.-born workers, and they have helped to counter some of the inflationary impact of a tight U.S. labor market.  

With the headline Consumer Price Index inflation rate falling to about 3 percent recently, wages are now growing faster than inflation. Net immigration will have to stay at relatively high levels to have a lasting impact in containing inflation, but this is far from assured. Consequently, the case for permitting more legal immigration now encompasses both economic growth and inflation reduction considerations.

Posted by at September 12, 2023 12:00 AM