Rising Prices Make Housing Unaffordable for Immigrants in California Cities

The California Immigrant Policy Center recently released its annual report on the economic contributions of immigrants to California’s economy. The contributions are huge–$715 billion, or one-third of the state’s total output. And the state’s total GDP makes it the sixth largest economy in the world. Undocumented immigrants alone contribute an amount equal to the entire output of the economy of Oklahoma.

The continued ability for immigrants in California to play such a crucial role in the economy is being undermined, however, by rising inequality and housing prices that are increasingly unaffordable for immigrants at the low end of the pay spectrum.

The study takes three examples of neighborhoods in Los Angeles and San Francisco that traditionally housed an immigrant population and shows that, with housing costs rising in these neighborhoods, the immigrant population has been declining.

Read more of my summary of the California Immigrant Policy Center’s study over on Immigration Impact.

Photo credit: Luke Price under Creative Commons License 2.0.

New Data Places a Value on Immigrant Lost Potential

A new report by the Migration Policy Institute (MPI) on the issue of “brain waste” describes the most important factors that result in high-skilled immigrants being underemployed (that is, high-skilled immigrants in low-skill jobs) or unemployed. For the first time, this report estimates the earnings lost from underutilized immigrant skills.

MPI researchers determined that the 1.5 million high-skilled immigrants working in low-skill jobs earn a total of $39.4 billion less each year than they would if they were employed in jobs appropriate to their skill level. The forgone earnings translate into a total of $10.2 billion in lost state and local tax revenue, according to the report.

This new research gives advocates the tools to go to policy makers at the state and local level and show them what their return on investment will be when they support programs to help skilled immigrants gain whatever extra training they need to gain employment in high-paying jobs appropriate to their skill level. A modest investment of public funding will lead to a big boost in earnings and, as a result, a big boost in taxes paid.

Read more in my post on Immigration Impact.

Photo credit: Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade.

Immigration and Japan’s Declining Economy

Japanese worker

I saw that this post on IZA World of Labor about the Japanese economy. It has again slipped into recession. Why? An aging workforce, and very low immigration.

Japan just doesn’t have enough workers to fill available jobs. The unemployment rate is at a long-term low of 3.4 percent. For every job seeker, there are 1.24 job openings. Japan’s worker shortage, according to the Wall Street Journal, will cost the country $86 billion in 2015 and 2016, or 2 percent of the country’s GDP.

Japan’s aversion to immigration has been a slowly developing disaster. Japan ranks 3rd in the world in median age of its population: 46.1 years. Immigrants could bring down the median age of the workforce and help alleviate the worker shortage. However, today foreign-born workers constitute just 1 percent of the Japanese workforce.

Here in the U.S., immigrants make up 16.5 percent of the workforce. Undocumented immigrants here make up a far greater percentage of our workforce than all foreign labor in Japan: 5.1 percent. The median age in the U.S. is 37.6.

Still, our policies aren’t keeping up with the times. Congress last adjusted our immigration levels a quarter century ago, in 1990. Since that time, the GDP of our economy has doubled. And it looks like Congress will not act any time soon to modernize our immigration system.

Photo credit: Stephen Geyer via Flickr and the Creative Commons license.