There are over 42.4 million immigrants currently residing in the United States. Of this number, about 26.3 million are members of the workforce, or nearly 17 percent of total U.S. employment. Some argue that native-born workers are losing employment opportunities due to the large number of immigrant workers, and are in favor of more restrictive immigration policies. But how would this actually affect employment for native-born workers?
In 2015, the overall unemployment rate for native-born workers (5.4 percent) was higher than that of foreign-born workers (4.9 percent). While these numbers may seem causal, many more native-born workers are leaving the labor force due to schooling, retirement or disability than their immigrant counterparts.
According to a 2015 Labor Force Characteristics Survey, competition between native- and foreign-born workers in the job market is low. Variables such as education level and where in the country immigrant workers reside affect the types of jobs they have, with many finding opportunities in industries with lower wages and fewer skills required.
Immigrant workers in more skilled positions tend to create more opportunities for native-born workers than is often assumed. The Americas Society/Council of the Americas and the Fiscal Policy Institute reported in 2013 that 18 percent of overall U.S. business ownership was made up of foreign-born workers, with another 18 percent of all Fortune 500 companies being founded by immigrants.
This means that immigrants are creating more potential jobs for native-born workers. One example of this is that for every foreign-born worker in the science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) fields, about 2.62 jobs for native workers are created, thus helping to refuel the economy and boost native employment.
By adding all of these factors together, it is clear that native-born workers would not benefit from the U.S. limiting the amount of immigrants allowed into the country. Through comprehensive immigration reform, both native- and foreign-born workers can benefit from more job opportunities across the board and continue contributing to our economic growth.