Northeastern University Research Says Immigration Has Dramatically Reduced American Teenage Jobs


As all Canadians know, many Canadian teenagers apply for summer and other part-time employment. Unsuccessful applicants (as well as their parents) will be interested to hear the findings of a major U.S. research study.

Immigration Watch Canada notes that the research shows that immigration (particularly illegal) has dramatically reduced American teenage (late high school+) job opportunities.

The U.S. wide research was led by Dr. Andrew Sum of Northeastern University. Dr. Sum is the director of the Center for Labor Market Studies at Northeastern.

Because no similar research has been done in Canada, observations here are anecdotal. Canadian immigration critics admit that illegal immigration is not the major problem here that it is in the U.S. Ironically, research evidence shows that high legal immigration is the major issue here. A very large number of legal immigrants in Canada hold jobs that for many years were done by teenagers. Critics emphasize that Canada's intake of legal immigrants is far higher than our economy can absorb and that the unremitting high levels (around 225,000+ since 1990) have to be reduced. The major point their research makes is that Canada's immigration has been poorly done and has caused economic problems.

But they also stress that illegal immigrant employment in Canada has been trivialized by political officials. One job done by an illegal means that one Canadian citizen is displaced from a job. One thousand jobs done by illegals mean that one thousand Canadian citizens have been displaced. Since the number of jobs done by illegals is undoubtedly much higher, the number of Canadians displaced from jobs is also much higher.

Canadian officials have publicly stated that they have only a vague idea of how many people are here illegitimately. The highest figure used has been 600,000. It is widely known that many failed refugee claimants have gone into hiding and that a large number of visa holders have overstayed their visits. Federal officials concede that these people are probably surviving by working illegally. Critics speculate that many of these illegals have taken lower-end, entry-level employment of the type teenagers have traditionally worked at.

U.S. estimates of illegals vary, but all are shocking. Some guesses put the number of illegals at over 20 million, a large percentage of whom are Mexicans. Their effect on the U.S. economy, particularly on low-wage American-born workers, has been enormous. Harvard economist Dr. George Borjas has estimated that there is an annual $193 Billion transfer from workers to employers. This means that employers have made extremely high savings by employing immigrants (legal and illegal) who work for less than American citizens.

Immigration advocates in most countries like to claim that immigrants do the jobs that their own citizens won't do. But research shows that large numbers of American-born, low-wage earners have been displaced by immigrant workers willing to work for less. Many of the displaced (many blacks) have become impoverished.

Middle class employment of American workers has been similarly affected by an inflow of visa-holding professionals (some Canadian and Mexican).

Before Dr. Sum's study, no estimate had been made of the effect of immigration on a third sector: teenage employment. Among Dr Sum's findings (taken from Charles Zehren of “Newsday”) are the following:

(1) There is a direct link between the steep national decline in teen (late high school student) employment rates and the growing practice of businesses hiring illegal immigrants and paying them in cash.

(2) Teen employment is low and will continue to fall, with a drop to 36.7 percent this summer from 45 percent in 2000. That puts it at or near its lowest level since such statistics began to be gathered in 1948.

(3) The immigrant increase in employment is overwhelming. Every net new job created is taken by an immigrant.

(4) Other factors cited by Sum include recent reductions in government-sponsored employment programs and the “age twist'', the historically unprecedented influx of workers 55 and older into the job market, possibly a result of downsizing, forced retirements, spouses' having to work and the cost of health care.

(5) Another factor is increased competition from 20- to 25-year-old college graduates who have been driven into less attractive jobs unrelated to their fields.

(6) There is undeniable evidence that more American businesses are opting to expand profits and remain competitive by hiring low-cost undocumented workers instead of paying taxes, workers' compensation and even rudimentary health benefits for legal workers. Sum said he had not seen anything like this in 25 years.

(7) Businesses hired 3.7 million immigrant workers during the past five years, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics' current population survey. Research shows 50 to 60 percent arrived illegally.

(8) The U.S. Internal Revenue Service is auditing businesses more aggressively, but the chasm between official and unofficial employment in the U.S. continues to widen.

(9)`The more someone works in high school, the easier it is for them to find a job when they graduate, the more likely it is that they will work full time, the more likely it is that they will earn more money, and the earnings effect lasts for as long as 10 years,'' Sum said.

(10) Sum's solutions include stronger enforcement of immigration and business employer laws, higher standards for youth, more business cooperative education, tax credits to teen employers, and government funding for teen job programs, especially in the cities.

Charles Zehren's full article is available at the following internet address: