Immigration has risen in the United States and is at its highest since the 1930s. It is a hotly debated political issue, and according to Federal Reserve economist Madeline Zavodny, its effect is not what many believe.
Instead of being a drain on governments, Zavodny says that immigrants pay more in taxes than they use in services, and that they add $10 billion a year more to state and federal budgets than is spent on them. However, illegal immigrants use more state and local services than they pay for in taxes, according to the Congressional budget office. Immigrants can raise public education costs and impose substantial costs on places that attract a lot of immigrants, like California.
There is a consensus among economists that immigrants do not affect unemployment or wages very much, except for low-skilled workers. Negative effects of immigrants on jobs are limited to those workers with less than a high school education.
According to, the Center for Immigration Studies, the increase in the number of people without health insurance since 1989 has been driven by immigrants. This strains the resources of those who provide medical care to the uninsured, and raises insurance premiums for people who have insurance.
- Federal Reserve Bank of Atlanta: How Has Immigration Affected the U.S. Economy?
- Center for Immigration Studies: Immigrants in the United States, 2000: A Snapshot of America’s Foreign-Born Population
- Congress of the United States, Congressional Budget Office: The Impact of Unauthorized Immigrants on the Budgets of State and Local Governments.
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