Every day, people throughout the world make one of the most difficult decisions — to leave their homes in search of a better life. They flee from violence, war and hunger, or face discrimination based on their sexual orientation, race or religion. They leave family behind, seeking to give their children a future they could not provide for in their home countries.
While some people choose to settle in close-by villages, others travel far from home — often for the first time in their lives. They journey to a new country to live, work and raise their families — a place called America.
As the nation debates recovery and immigration reform, it is important to understand the impact that immigrants have on our economy and society. While some fear that immigration will cause native-born workers to lose their jobs, the reality is quite the opposite. The data show that immigrant employment is a key driver of the U.S. labor market and productivity growth. Immigrants also play a crucial role in supporting the nation’s aging population, and boosting Social Security and Medicare trust funds.
In addition, immigrants’ geographic mobility helps local economies respond to worker shortages and labor booms. As a result, immigrants have contributed to the growth of many regions and industries. In fact, immigrants have more than doubled the number of people in some key sectors, such as construction, food services and health care. They have also made major contributions to agriculture and energy.
Moreover, immigrant children are an economic asset to their parents’ communities and the nation as a whole. In addition to being a source of skilled labor, immigrant children are highly productive and contribute to the success of U.S. businesses through entrepreneurship and innovation.
The nation can turn the economic benefits of immigrants into even greater returns if we put millions of undocumented workers on a path to citizenship. By doing so, we will turn the economic contributions of these hardworking individuals into massive gains for our national economy and its workers.
Despite their diverse backgrounds, immigrant households are more likely to be entrepreneurs and have higher levels of educational attainment than the native-born population as a whole. As a result, they drive entrepreneurship and innovation and boost the productivity of the entire economy. Furthermore, the average household income of immigrants is higher than that of native-born families in the same socioeconomic bracket. This is because the earnings of immigrant households have increased faster than those of native-born families in recent years. This reflects an increase in the number of high-skilled workers and a more gradual decrease in wages for lower-skilled workers. In addition, immigrants are more likely to move to where the jobs are. This helps to alleviate bottlenecks in the economy by boosting demand for goods and services, resulting in faster economic growth. In contrast, a slowdown in the rate of population growth can hamper economic expansion by reducing demand for products and services, thus limiting growth and employment opportunities.