More Immigrants, More Jobs

Is immigration one source of a high unemployment rate?

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Byron York repeats the conventional wisdom about immigration's effect on employment:

Is this time of great economic distress really the right time to argue for greater immigration? "You want to bring more people in?" asks one incredulous GOP aide on Capitol Hill. "That was a hard case to make when unemployment was four percent, much less when it's almost ten percent."

But if anything, greater immigration becomes more necessary when there's more unemployment.

This argument assumes that there are a limited amount of jobs out there, and so each additional person looking for a job means one less job for someone else. It's funny that this argument is coming from a GOP aide, because his or her own party seems to reject this zero-sum logic in every case except immigration. Look at the GOP response to the climate change bill just passed by the House: they argue that it will kill jobs by raising costs to businesses. But immigration restrictions also increase costs to businesses by reducing the supply of labor, thus making it more expensive. So why is it "incredulous" that anyone could have a problem with this job-killer?

The evidence is actually pretty strong that immigrants create jobs--they don't steal them. The average entrepreneur in this country is an immigrant. Educated immigrants are more likely to create startup businesses than native-born Americans.

If we want to bring down this high unemployment rate, we can't shut out the people who are going to create new jobs. Allowing more H-1B visas and easing the process by which temporary workers can become citizens would expand the pool of jobs in the country.