Pew Immigration Enthusiasts Wrong—Japan Shows Workforce Decline No Problem

Article author: 
Edwin S. Rubenstein
Article publisher: 
Article date: 
11 April 2017
Article category: 
Our American Future
Article Body: 

... The Baby Boomers are retiring! And only immigration can prevent a decline in our working-age population—and, by implication, a decline in living standards! That was the message from a recent Pew Research Center report: Immigration projected to drive growth in U.S. working-age population through at least 2035, by Jeffrey S. Passel and D’Vera Cohn, March 8, 2015. It’s immigration-enthusiast bunk, of course, as proved by the counter-example of Japan.

Pew estimates that the retirement of Baby Boomers will reduce the number of U.S.-born people of working age (25 to 64) by 8.2 million, or 6.4%, over the 2015 to 2035 period. But Pew projects that 17.8 million new immigrants will enter over these two decades, enough to offset and exceed the aging and death of working-age immigrants already here by about 4.6 million.

Immigration over the next 20 years will increase the working age population by about 10 million above current levels, according to Pew. In contrast, if an immigration moratorium were implemented, the working age population would fall by about 7 million.

Note carefully: an immigration moratorium would mean a tighter labor market.

Conversely, projected immigration over the next 20 years will increase the working age population by about 17 million, or 10%, above the level that would have been reached under a moratorium. That means a looser labor market—and lower wages.

But Pew likely overstates immigration’s future role...

But living standards are best measured by per capita, not total, GDP. Per capita income falls if immigrants are less educated, productive, motivated than the native-born. And this is the case in the U.S., as seen in the Bureau of Labor Statistics’ latest annual survey of the immigrant workforce. Comparing median wage and salary income of immigrant and native-born workers in 2015, BLS found:

    Native-born American workers: $43,524
    Immigrant workers:   $35,412

BLS, Foreign-born Workers: Labor Force Characteristics – 2015, May 19, 2016, Table 5.

Immigrant workers earned 81.4% of the native-born median income. Male immigrants earned only 76.2% of what native-born males earned in 2015...

And there’s a further point that immigration enthusiasts never make:

    Countries with stable or falling populations can often enjoy faster per capita GDP growth than those with high immigration and population growth...