8.6.16

ECONOMIC RECOVERY, OR LESS IMMIGRATION?

Pick one, might be what Michael Barone is arguing.
Data from the Census Bureau’s American Community Survey has shown how the picture changed from the pre-recession years of 1998-2007 to the most recent two-year period, 2014-2015.

In the earlier period, immigration from Mexico averaged 429,000 a year, nearly one-third of total immigration. More recently, it averaged 170,000 a year, just 11 percent of the total. But immigration from the rest of Latin America has increased significantly, from 269,000 annually pre-recession to 439,000 most recently. That leaves total Latin migration down by some 90,000.

Immigration from East and South Asia has more than made up for this, rising from a pre-recession average of 337,000 to 566,000 in 2014-2015. Immigration from Africa and the Middle East is also up, from 101,000 to 205,000.

The ACS data does not categorize these immigrants by skill level. But past patterns suggests that current immigrants on average have higher levels of education and skills than was the case in the surge of immigration in the quarter-century from 1982 to 2007. In that respect it may resemble more closely the Ellis Island immigration of 1892-1914.
"Past patterns suggest" isn't the same thing as "Current research confirms."  But as I've suggested before, you can't be talking simultaneously about jobs going overseas and immigrants overwhelming the country, or limiting that to the social services.

But fine-tuning immigration so as to favor skilled workers, as Mr Barone suggests?  Not so easy.
There’s a strong argument for a revised immigration policy, like those of Canada and Australia, which would prioritize high-skill immigrants and reduce the number of low-skill people admitted under extended family unification provisions.

The reduced flow of migrants from Mexico and increased flow from South and East Asia is producing results closer to such a policy than what we saw during the 1982-2007 surge of immigration.

Trump’s incendiary statements don’t point directly toward that kind of immigration reform. But Clinton’s advocacy of what amounts to open borders for the unskilled points in the opposite direction — and it’s far from clear that’s what most voters want.
I'm not sure how to evaluate that policy proposal. On the one hand, job descriptions and pay packages that might not attract domestic skilled workers might look generous to immigrants.  That's why the presence of overseas graduate students gives the lie to claims university professors are underworked and overpaid.  On the other hand, the anecdotal evidence of companies firing skilled workers who are first compelled to train their replacements, brought in on H1-B visas has enough purchase to help the Trump campaign.

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