Los Angeles Times, March 7, 2016
nald Trump’s economic message is loud and clear: Misguided Washington policymakers have allowed foreign countries to steal American jobs, and uncontrolled immigration is driving wages down.
Trump is partly right in saying that trade has cost the U.S. economy jobs and held down wages.
He may also be correct — to a degree — in saying that low-skilled immigrants have depressed salaries for certain jobs or industries, the latest economic research shows.
Where Trump gets things wrong, economists say, is in exaggerating the downside and ignoring the benefits that trade and immigration provide to the economy.
Although some studies have suggested that low-skilled immigrant labor reduces wages in certain industries, whether meatpacking or gardening, the bulk of economic research analyzing data over the last 40 years shows that immigration has had no significant detrimental impact on wages or employment for American workers overall, said Giovanni Peri, a leading authority on the subject at UC Davis.
On the contrary, Peri said it may have more of the opposite effect. Large-scale immigrant labor adds to demand for services. Immigrants hold down costs of farm products, child-care and other goods and services. Moreover, in doing manual work, Peri said, immigrants create opportunities for those companies to create other jobs in sales, clerical or management that are more attractive and likely to be taken by native-born workers.