As advocates on both sides of the issue continue to debate U.S. immigration policy, some might view the issue in an abstract way without recognizing the immediate impact it is having on citizens across the nation.
One recent report from the Center for Immigration Studies, however, paints a clear picture of the effect immigration – both legal and illegal – has had on the job market of one state in particular. According to the analysis released this month, the entirety of Tennessee’s employment gains since 2000 has gone to immigrant laborers.
The study, which tracked job increases up to the first quarter of this year, shows that, while positions going to immigrants rose by 94,000, employment among native-born citizens dropped by 47,000. This statistic is even more startling in light of the fact that the 60 percent of the overall population increase in the state came from natives.
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According to the study, one in three working-age native citizens in the state is now out of work. That percentage represents a significant drop from 2000, a year in which 72 percent of the same group was employed. In real numbers, 300,000 fewer native-born citizens in Tennessee are working than held a job in 2000.
Center for Immigration Studies Research Director Steven Camarota wondered how, given these statistics, anyone in the state could back any initiative that invites even more immigrants to compete for jobs.
“It’s remarkable that any political leader in Tennessee would support legislation that would increase the number of foreign workers allowed into the country,” he said, “given the relatively weak job growth in the state and the large share of working-age people not working.”
The organization included a few other telling statistics, including a 176 percent increase in the state’s immigrant population during the same 14-year period during which employment dropped among native-born citizens.
“This undermines the argument that immigration increases job opportunities for natives,” the report concluded.
Photo Credit: Flickr (BBC World Service)
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