Immigration = unemployment

It’s always fascinating how economists who like nothing better than to cite the Law of Supply and Demand turn around and claim that increasing the labor supply by nearly 20 percent neither reduces average wages nor native employment:

The number of foreign-born workers kept rising. Last year, there were 25.7 million in the U.S., up from 25.3 million in 2013. They accounted for 16.5% of the labor force in 2014, up from 16.3% the year before and 15.5% in 2009, the year the recovery began.

The foreign-born worker labor-force participation rate—the share aged 16 and older working or looking for work–was 66.0% in 2014, higher than the native-born rate of 62.3%. Foreign-born workers are more likely than native-born workers to be male and more likely to be between the ages of 25 to 54, ages when the participation rate is highest, according to the BLS.

About 48.3% of the foreign-born workers in 2014 were Hispanic and 24.1% of them were Asian last year, according to BLS. The composition of foreign workers has shifted since 2009, with Hispanics’ share decreasing and Asians’ rising.

Foreign-born workers saw their median usual weekly earnings rise to $664 in 2014, up from $643 in 2013. The difference between the weekly earnings of foreign-born workers and their native-born counterparts narrowed slightly as well from $162 in 2013 to $156 in 2014. The earnings gap peaked at $173 in 2010 and has been trending down since.

Since 20 percent of the US labor force is non-American, it should be no surprise that the number of Americans now outside the labor force has increased dramatically in line with the increase in immigration.

This shouldn’t be rocket science. Let’s use a reductio ad absurdum to explain. If 100 percent of the labor force is foreign-born, what percent of native-born Americans have jobs?

a) 100
b) zero
c) mu

The immigrants aren’t even that much cheaper, as their median usual weekly earnings are 81 percent of the native-born workers. If we assume that employers are unable to spend any more money on employment than they already are, that means that immigrants are responsible for putting 20.8 million Americans out of work.