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Effect of Immigration on Jobs, Wages Is Difficult for Economists to Nail Down
[FINAL Edition]
The Washington Post - Washington, D.C.
Subjects: Wages & salaries; Economic impact; Labor supply; Immigration; Foreign labor
Author: Henderson, Nell
Date: Apr 15, 2006
Start Page: D.01

"Immigration provides overall economic gains to a country," wrote economist Albert Saiz, summarizing the literature in a 2003 article for the Federal Reserve Bank of Philadelphia. "Indeed, the U.S. experience as an immigrants' country is one of phenomenal economic growth. However, there are winners and losers in the short run."

The proportion of immigrants in the U.S. adult urban population nearly doubled from 1980 to 2000, from 9.5 percent to 18 percent, according to census figures cited by David Card, an economist at the University of California at Berkeley, in a paper presented at a Federal Reserve Bank of Philadelphia conference last year. The Washington area mimicked the national trend, with the immigrants' proportion growing from 9.6 percent to 20.6 percent during those two decades.

Immigrants are, on average, less schooled than native-born Americans. Looking at census data from hundreds of the nation's urban areas where immigrants cluster, Card found that in both 1980 and 2000, more than a third of adult immigrants did not have high school diplomas. But the proportion of working-age natives at that education level fell from 23 percent to 13 percent from 1980 to 2000, "more than offsetting the inflow of less-educated immigrants."

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