Immigration and the U.S. Labor Market: A Look Ahead

Harry J. Holzer
Date of Publication: 
August, 2019
Source Organization: 
Migration Policy Institute

This issue brief outlines trends in the U.S. labor market that will likely impact future supply and demand for workers—among them, an aging workforce, a greater need for skilled workers, a greater reliance on contract workers, and rising inequality in income that makes work relatively less attractive to lower-skilled workers, making them more likely to drop out of the labor force. The author examines the literature on the impacts of immigration on native workers and concludes, as other studies have, that there is little evidence showing immigrants negatively impact native workers (with some exceptions). The author examines the role immigration should play in the future U.S. labor market. He advocates for moderately increased levels of immigration, with a shift toward immigrants selected on the basis of national economic need, while acknowledging that lower-skilled immigrants also make valuable economic contributions. The author makes a set of recommendations for policies and programs meant to help all American workers—immigrants and natives—who will be buffeted by future technical and demographic shifts. He concludes by noting that the basic goals of comprehensive immigration reform introduced in previous congresses—including a path to citizenship for undocumented immigrants, enhanced legal immigration channels and enhanced immigration enforcement—remain relevant today. (Maurice Belanger, Maurice Belanger Associates)

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Holzer, H. (2019). Immigration and the U.S. Labor Market: A Look Ahead. Washington, DC: Migration Policy Institute. Retrieved from