NC State Ag Economist Dr. Mike Walden – “Immigrants and Wages”


Mary:  This is Mary Walden with economist MW, welcoming you to the economic perspective.  Today’s program looks at immigrants and wages.  Mike, there is a debate about the impact of immigrants on the pay of workers.  Please explain the two sides of the debate and the empirical evidence on the question.

Mike:  Summary Answer

  1. One side says the impact of more immigrants on rates of pay is a simple matter of supply – more immigrants mean a greater supply of workers, and more supply means lower pay
  2. Since the majority of recent immigrants are low-skilled, there are academic studies showing a reduction in the pay of domestic low-skilled workers as immigration has increased
  3. But the other side says – wait – depends if immigrants compete for jobs with domestic workers, or if they fill a void not being supplied by domestic workers
  4. There is some academic research showing immigrants fill a void – meaning they don’t directly compete with domestic workers – so there is no adverse impact on wages
  5. So, dueling views and dueling studies
  6. I’m MW

Mary:  And I’m Mary Walden for the North Carolina Cooperative Extension Service