Fewer refugees and illegal immigrants = more jobs for Americans?

Fewer refugees and illegal immigrants = more jobs for Americans?  

Bottom Line: After breaking down the May employment report I broke out three meaningful storylines. To recap... 

  • Lowest unemployment rate in just over 18 years but also the lowest real unemployment rate in right at 17 years 

  • Average net take home pay up 5.4% year over year 

  • Record low unemployment for Asian and black adults 

I want to pick up on the record low minority unemployment rates. The often-forgotten Americans (long-term unemployed, underemployed, marginally attached) are still 7.6 million strong. However, we've had significant progress made with nearly 1 million of these adults re-entering the workforce aside from the normal employment gains reported monthly. A better economy helps no doubt but are we also seeing fewer refugees and a crackdown on illegal immigration making a difference for these folks as well?  

Starting with refugees...  

In 2017 the US admitted 29,022 refugees. That was down from 94,837 in 2016 and the fewest admitted in the US since 2001.  

Now illegal immigration...  

The border patrol estimate suggested that we'd been averaging 800,000 illegal immigrants entering the US per year. That's roughly 66,600 crossings per month. According to the latest data from the border patrol, they've been averaging stopping about 38,000 illegal crossings per month this year. That's approximately a 40% increase over the prior year and comes as enforcement by those already in the US increased by 21%. Put it altogether and I estimate that there are 199,000 fewer illegal immigrants in the US than otherwise would be – not including any reductions based on potentially fewer illegal immigrants attempting to enter the US. 

Here's the question that's often underdiscussed when it comes to illegal immigration. What would those 200,000 or so illegal immigrants do when they get here? Many would say the jobs "that Americans don't want to do". It may be true that they'd occupy jobs that Americans otherwise would occupy but there's zero evidence that at the right wage there are jobs Americans won't do.  

Just to illustrate the point...  

Would there be many Americans who'd want to pick oranges for $5 per hour? Probably not. How many do you think would line up for $30 an hour though? Point is there's always a price and the market adjusts based on need. With many of the underemployed, marginally attached and long-term unemployed finding work along with record low minority employment there's likely a connection between fewer refugees and illegal immigrants equaling more opportunities for Americans most in need. 

 

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