Immigration and Labor

John Schmitt: My view on immigration and how to deal with the labor market challenges is to focus on the labor market rather than to focus on the immigration issue itself.  I think, if we have good, effective national labor standards that guarantee workers at the bottom have the basic minimum wage, they have the basic kind of benefits that the rest of the society kind of takes for granted, like paid vacation time, paid parental leave, paid sick days, that are financed primarily out of social insurance, not out of taxes on employers, directly or indirectly, I think that is the best way we can shore up the bottom of the labor force, not only for immigrants who come into the United States but also for low-wage workers who are born here in the United States and find themselves in direct competition with immigrants.  If we take away some of the downward pressure that increases in labor supply can put on the bottom, I think we can have a positive impact for both immigrants and workers here in the United States.

John Schmitt is a Senior Economist at the Center for Economic and Policy Research in Washington, DC.  This video was released by the Drucker Institute on 17 May 2010.

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