“Immigration and Economics: By the Numbers”

7/10/2017
U.S. News & World Report


“…The question of whether immigration helps or hurts the U.S. economy is a touchy one, and one that has different answers depending upon one's position along the political spectrum. But a preponderance of research suggests the overall benefits largely outweigh the costs, as immigrants…drive innovation, enhance productivity and create jobs for Americans and visa-holders alike.

“…Carbonite helped launch an immigration report commissioned by the Massachusetts Technology Leadership Council, or MassTLC, in early June. The document expanded upon data-heavy legal documents the MassTLC submitted to the U.S. District Court of Hawaii and the U.S. Courts of Appeal for the 4th and 9th Circuits earlier this year in response to President Donald Trump's proposed temporary travel ban.

“Among other findings, the 164-page document highlighted that 40 percent of Fortune 500 companies were founded by immigrants or the children of immigrants. And more than half of U.S. startups valued at $1 billion or more – known colloquially as ‘unicorns’ – were started by immigrants.

“…The report in some ways isn't a unique document…A 2016 study from the National Foundation for American Policy profiled 87 U.S. startups valued at $1 billion or more. Forty-four were founded or co-founded by immigrants. That group was collectively valued at $168 billion and employed an average of 760 people per company.

“A 2013 study from the National Venture Capital Association found that a third of venture-backed companies that went public between 2006 and 2012 were founded or co-founded by an immigrant to the U.S. And a massive report published in September by the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering and Medicine found that immigration is ‘integral to the nation's economic growth.’ 

“…A separate 2013 report from George Borjas, an economics and social policy professor at the Harvard Kennedy School, found that the overall immigration population in the U.S. reduces the wages of ‘natives in competition with immigrants by an estimated $402 billion a year.’

“Still, that finding stands in contrast to the results of a 2015 study published in the National Bureau of Economic Research. That undertaking determined ‘immigrants can raise native workers' real wages’ and that ‘local workers benefit from the arrival of more immigrants.’

“With research for and against immigrants' economic contributions, policy discussions on the subject are often politically driven. But [Mohamed] Ali says his company [Carbonite] and many others like it depend on skilled labor, both from domestic workers and from international talent. And he says the U.S. could do a better job of making the immigration process more fair and attractive to keep global companies and workers from going somewhere else.”

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