No Evidence That Low-Paid Immigrants Are "Taking" NC Jobs

Apr 15, 2014

Credit NC Bankers Association

A new study is challenging the notion that low-paid immigrant populations are "taking" jobs from native North Carolinians.

The study, prepared by professors from UNC-Chapel Hill and commissioned by the North Carolina Bankers Association, suggests that Hispanic workers are more likely to be in their prime working years, and thus, more employable than older, non-Hispanic whites. The size of immigrant populations is exploding as well, growing more than 3,300 in NC since 1960.

The study collected data on the overall economic impact of different immigrant groups. Overall, non-native populations had about a $20 billion positive impact on the state in 2010. 

At a press conference, Congresswoman Renee Ellmers of Dunn asked the study's authors if there's any truth to the notion that low-paid immigrants are taking the jobs of more qualified native workers.  Author Stephen Appold of UNC-Chapel Hill's business school said that is a commonly held belief

"But when we look at the numbers, we can't find that," said Appold. "And what we think, a lot of what's going on is, 'Yeah, you could get the jobs when you were 25, but now you're pushing 60. You were on your way out anyway. The work was gonna go to the younger people.'"

"A lot of what's going on is, yeah, you could get the jobs when you were 25, but now you're pushing 60..."

When it comes to public expenditures however, the story is slightly different. The explosion in the non-citizen Hispanic population has resulted in a net loss when it comes to services like education and health care. The study's authors say most of that loss comes from children of non-legal residents in public school.

"Some people as policy makers would look at that as a cost," said Morrisville Town Councilman, Steve Rau.  "But I would look at that as an investment, because that community is very hard working. So if we can educate their children, they can actually move up in America. We could actually create more jobs."

Tax Contributions by Race
Credit NC Bankers Association

The state did see a net revenue gain from immigrants of origins other than Hispanic. Those groups, which are more likely to be naturalized citizens, returned tax revenue amounting to 48 million dollars more than they received in public services.