Immigrants and the American Economy

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As a nation of immigrants, America has long been a place of diversity and openness to new ideas. In fact, almost one in seven people living in the United States has at least one immigrant parent. Immigrants are an important part of the American economy, contributing as workers, entrepreneurs, and taxpayers. In addition, they provide social and cultural contributions that benefit all Americans.

There is a broad range of jobs available to immigrants, including construction, food service, and health care. Many immigrants also hold professional degrees and are in demand by employers. The American economy depends on a large number of immigrant workers, and immigrants are often more productive than native-born employees.

In the United States, immigration is defined as the international movement of people into a country or region where they do not normally live or possess nationality, in order to settle there as permanent residents. Although the word is often used to refer to refugees fleeing persecution, most immigrants are seeking work or economic opportunities. Some of these migrants are legally privileged, such as family members who are sponsored by their new country of residence. Others are unskilled laborers or people without formal qualifications for specific professions.

Many of the first wave of immigrants from Europe came to the United States in the late 19th and early 20th centuries, as part of a larger Age of Mass Migration. However, popular opposition to this immigration led to laws in the 1920s that sharply restricted immigration from Southern and Eastern Europe.

As the population grew in the years after World War II, the number of immigrants increased rapidly. In 1970, the percentage of the population that was foreign born reached about 5 percent. Immigration continued to rise in the decades after that, driven by a surge in legal and illegal migration from Latin America, the dissolution of colonial regimes across Asia, and political and military intervention in several regions.

Contemporary immigrants tend to assimilate into American society at about the same pace as previous waves of immigrants did. Their children are on track for upward mobility as well, as evidenced by the high rates of college attendance and graduation among immigrant families. They make up a significant share of the workforce in certain industries, helping to cushion the effects of labor shortages and increasing the rate at which new businesses are started. They also help support the aging population of native-born Americans, reducing the burden on Social Security and Medicare trust funds.

As a result of the high level of immigration, the United States is considered to have a relatively fast-growing economy. This is in contrast to most other advanced countries, which are experiencing slow or negative economic growth. There is a general belief in economic history that a rising rate of immigration stimulates the economy by stimulating consumer spending. This, in turn, encourages manufacturers to hire more workers, which creates more jobs and raises wages. As a result, consumers benefit from a higher standard of living and a wider choice of goods.