Immigration and Wages
Wages are partially determined by supply and demand. The tighter the labor market, the higher the wages. There is a very direct relationship.
People who dislike immigrants for economic reasons think that if there are less immigrants, there will be less people competing for jobs, and therefore wages will be higher.
The alternative argument is that immigrants spend money. They are consumers. The more money being spent, the more demand there is for goods and services. Therefore, the more demand there is for workers, and therefore wages are higher.
Which of these is true varies by society and time period, but also depends on what jobs you’re talking about. Immigrants compete for low-end jobs, and they compete for some high-end jobs as well (in particular various tech jobs, especially in programming, engineering, and science). The latter tend to come in visas, often worker visas which give them limited rights. The former are often undocumented; these are the folks Trump wants to deport.
A lot of older programmers (coders) can’t get hired. If there were fewer work-visa immigrants, perhaps they could. If there were fewer undocumented workers, perhaps there would be higher wages for low-paid manual labor jobs.
I support immigration, but I recognize that making immigration work means having policies which generate domestic work from domestic demand. If an immigrant makes money and spends most of it on Wal-mart goods made in China, it might well be that he or she is producing less local demand for workers than the job or jobs that immigrant has.
There are ways of making it so that immigrants produce more jobs than they consume, but this takes political will, and it hasn’t been a priority for most nations for decades. Heck, it hasn’t even been a consideration, much less a priority, because policy has been run to keep wages from increasing as fast as inflation, let alone as fast as productivity.
In this environment, it is not unreasonable for low-wage workers who are directly competing with undocumented workers to see them as competition. They are competition.
The right way to fix this, as with almost everything, is to make sure it’s a clear win/win, and not questionable which way it goes. Low-wage workers, and tech workers, need to see a tight labor market where there’s plenty of work and wages rising faster than inflation. In such an environment, they won’t care about immigration.
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