One-quarter of a job

After reading the actual study that is being used to claim that immigration actually creates new jobs for native workers, I became so skeptical of their mathematical modeling, their theoretical justifications, and their cherry-picked data that I have reached the conclusion that even with the wind of the credit boom at their backs, I can disprove their conclusions on the basis of the same 1980-to-2000 period they used to make their claims.

First, however, I have to note some corrections that I have made to my previous post. Because I used the labor force and not the working-age population, my numbers were a little off. My conservative interpretation of the NBER model meant that the U.S. economy was 24,367,681 short of the number of jobs predicted by the model. And from 2000 to 2015, 16.4 million new immigrants have created a total of 5,832,319 new jobs, for an average jobs/immigrant ratio of 0.36, which is still considerably short of the 1.2 that had been claimed.

But the economists’ claims were actually more outrageous than I thought at first. You may recall that I was thinking perhaps the 1.2 job included the immigrant’s job, for a net benefit to a native worker of 0.2. But that was simply how the media characterized the study, which actually claimed the following:

“Consistent with our prediction, the impacts of immigration on employment growth have become greater as the estimates imply that each new immigrant is predicted to add 2.5 new jobs (1.9 for native workers) to a city in which he or she settles.”

So that is the prediction we will use for the 20-year period they used, 2.5 new jobs per immigrant. In 1980, the U.S. working age population was 142,520,008 and the employment population ratio was 60.0. That means there were 85,512,005 jobs in 1980.

From 1980 through 1999, there were 16,822,980 legal immigrants, not counting refugees or undocumented workers. According to the study, they created 42,057,450 new jobs, which means that there should have been 127,569,455 jobs in the United States in 2000.

Were there? In January 2000, the working age population of the United States was
178,259,050 and the Employment-Population Ratio was 64.6, meaning there
were 115,155,346 jobs, leaving 12,414,109 of the newly created jobs unaccounted for. In fact, 16.8 million immigrants created 29,643,341 jobs, or 1.76 per immigrant. That looks pretty good, with each immigrant not only finding work but adding three-quarters of a new job per native. Of course, a credit boom is going to make most economic statistics look good.

However, if we put the two periods together, what we see is that from 1980 to 2015, 33,180,780 legal immigrants have created a total of 35,475,660 new jobs, for a net rate of 1.07 new jobs per legal immigrant. If we then add the additional 12 million illegal immigrants estimated to be resident in the USA, this reduces the 35-year new jobs/immigrant ratio to 0.78, which means that each immigrant eliminates approximately one-quarter of an existing American’s job.

And if the number of undocumented workers is as high as 30 million, as Ann Coulter and Donald Trump have asserted, then the new job/immigrant rate is 0.56 and each immigrant eliminates nearly half of an existing American’s job.