Fewer Job Openings Equals Fewer Immigrants


The Immigration Policy Center released a new Fact Sheet titled "Fewer Job Openings Equals Fewer Immigrants: Undocumented Immigration Slows Along With the U.S. Economy." The analysis shows that:

According to new estimates from the Pew Hispanic Center, the number of undocumented immigrants in the United States did not increase between 2007 and 2008, and may actually have fallen. The estimates—based on data from the Current Population Survey conducted every March by the U.S. Census Bureau—contain a margin of error that makes definitive conclusions about year-to-year changes in the size of the undocumented population difficult. However, it appears that the number of undocumented immigrants may have in fact declined by roughly 500,000, from 12.4 million in 2007 to 11.9 million in 2008.


The primacy of economics in either driving or discouraging immigration has been emphasized by numerous researchers. For instance, the new estimates from Pew echo the Census Bureau’s September 23 release of data from the 2007 American Community Survey (ACS), which also indicated that immigration to the United States has slowed recently. Reacting to that data, one of the authors of the Pew study, demographer Jeffrey S. Passel, told the New York Times that a similar drop in immigration occurred in 2002, “especially in Mexican immigration and especially illegal [immigration]…and we attributed it mainly to the economy.”

Likewise, demographer William H. Frey, a Senior Fellow in the Brookings Institution’s Metropolitan Policy Program, pointed out that “these trends reflect a reaction to employment downturns in previously fast-growing states that provided jobs in construction, retail and meatpacking, like Colorado and New Mexico, as well as poorer job prospects in traditional magnet states like New Jersey, Florida and Illinois.” Frey reiterated his observations to the Washington Post: “I think this shows that immigrants are keeping an eye on the economy when they make their decision on whether to come or where to live in the United States. When the economy appears to be in decline—particularly for the kind of construction, retail and service jobs that immigrants are inclined to take—they are less attracted to us.” Frey also observed that stepped-up immigration enforcement is an unlikely cause for the most recent downturn in immigration.

To read the rest of the Fact Sheet, click here.

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