Editor’s note: this article was originally published on the U.S. Chamber of Commerce blog, Free Enterprise. You can find the article here.
Getting 600 people from the across the country together in Washington, DC requires a compelling issue, like fixing America’s broken immigration system. Last week, an event at the U.S. Chamber, leaders representing business, law enforcement and the religious communities discussed discussed why the House of Representatives should act now on immigration reform.
One of the most-compelling arguments for reform is the economic benefits that will come from it. At the event, the Bipartisan Policy Center study released a study that found that immigration reform will mean faster economic growth; federal deficit reduction; a larger and younger workforce; and higher long-term wages.
Here are some key findings from the study:
- Spur economic growth. Immigration reform would cause the U.S. economy to grow an additional 4.8 percent over a 20-year period, including 2.8 percent in the first decade (as measured by gross domestic product, or GDP). Annual average growth would be 0.24 percent higher, peaking at 0.35 percent in FY2019–FY2023.
- Reduce federal deficits. Cumulative deficits would fall by nearly $1.2 trillion over a 20-year period. About $180 billion of this reduction would occur in the first decade, and $990 billion in the second decade.
- Jump-start the housing recovery. Immigration reform would dramatically increase demand for housing units. This would increase residential construction spending by an average of $68 billion per year over the 20-year period.
- Expand the labor force. By 2033, the labor force would be 8.3 million people larger, an increase of 4.4 percent compared with the baseline.
- Offset aging of the workforce. After accounting for fertility, mortality, and emigration, immigration reform would add 13.7 million people to the population by FY2033. Just 6 percent of these people would be age 65 or older. By comparison, the Census Bureau projects that 20 percent of U.S. residents will be 65 or older in 2030.
- Increase long-term wages. Wages would initially fall due to the large influx of workers, but rise in the long-term. Real wages in FY2023 would be about 0.2 percent below the baseline, but would be 0.5 percent higher than the baseline in FY2033.
See the infographic below.
The event was put on by the U.S. Chamber, the Bibles, Badges, and Business initiative of the National Immigration Forum, Fwd.us, and the Partnership for a New American Economy along with 30 other sponsoring organizations.
These conclusions don’t sit well with reform opponents like the Federation for American Immigration Reform’s Eric Ruark who in a post about the study, tossed out ad hominem attacks towards anyone who wants to fix our broken immigration system.
Being snarky avoids having to acknowledge that 1) the United States will be better off if we are more welcoming to immigrants of all skill levels; and 2) since our founding, the United States has benefited from immigration. Even today parts of our country would be much worse off without the contributions from immigrants, as Andrew Wainer, senior immigration-policy analyst for the Bread for the World Institute, writes in National Journal:
The economic contribution of immigrants in high-skilled fields is relatively well known, but less acknowledged are the contributions that blue-collar immigrants play in revitalizing depressed communities and economies, both as manual laborers and small-business entrepreneurs.
In Rust Belt places such as Baltimore, Detroit, and rural southeastern Iowa, immigration has slowed—and in some cases reversed—decades of population loss. In July 2012, after 60 years of population decline, the Census Bureau reported an increase in Baltimore’s population. The increase was attributed in part to growing international migration. Detroit is infamous for its population decline, which has continued since 1950. But it would be worse if it were not for the influx of immigrants from Latin America. Between 2000 and 2010 Detroit lost 237,000 residents—25 percent of the total population in just 10 years. But the city’s southwest immigrant neighborhoods, an area known as “Mexicantown” actually increased in population. While the city lost 41,000 whites and more than 185,000 blacks during this decade, it gained 1,512 Latinos.
Those 600 who came to Washington last week, proved that there’s public support for immigration reform, and there have been plenty of studies showing that the country will be better off for it. It’s up to the House of Representatives to act.