Immigration and the U.S. Economy: How Vital are Immigrants to Business?

Immigration has long been a controversial topic in the United States and internationally. Many of those objecting to today’s immigrants are only a few generations away from their own families’ arrival in the United States, but that doesn’t stop them from expressing concern – or even outrage – about new arrivals.

Among the top concerns expressed by anti-immigration voices is the fear that newcomers will fill jobs that would otherwise have gone to American citizens, or that the lower wages that immigrants would accept might lower compensation overall. But researchers analyzing hard data have found that immigrants act as job creators to a far greater extent than as job takers, and that overall they have an extremely positive impact on the country’s economy and business environment.

According to a study conducted by J. Daniel Kim of the Wharton School of Business, discussions about the pros and cons of immigration for the American economy tend to be colored by each side’s opinion rather than by facts. He argues that to truly understand whether immigrants are vital to business or having a negative effect on American citizens requires looking at both sides of the question.

Kim’s research shows that only 15% of America’s workers are immigrants, yet they are 80% more likely to become entrepreneurs, whether opening small businesses like shoe repair shops or bodegas or starting innovative tech companies. Those businesses hire other workers – sometimes just a few and sometimes thousands. Additionally, immigrants account for almost a quarter of all patents held in the United States, and those patents tend to contribute to the economy as well. Perhaps most notable of all, the businesses started and operated by first- and second-generation immigrants tend to pay the same higher wages than do those founded and run by native-born Americans.

Though it can be hard to dispel long-held biases and myths, the truth is that immigrants make significant positive contributions to American business, the economy, and the culture at large. If you or someone you love is trying to become an American citizen and you need assistance in navigating the complexities of the immigration system, we can help. Contact us today to set up a time to meet with one of our knowledgeable immigration attorneys and discuss your situation.