The Seattle Times is running a series this week on illegal immigration. If you want an easy intro to the many facets of this complicated debate you might want to check it out. An excerpt from today's article:
If the supply of illegal workers were cut off, wages for those low-skilled jobs presumably would have to rise enough to attract legal workers into them. If, hypothetically, wage levels rose by a third, that would either add around $1,600 to the cost of the typical house or shave half a percentage point off the builder's 12 percent average profit margin.The bottom line seems to be that undocumented workers (the kinder, gentler alternative to tagging poor latino families "illegal") depress wages but have very little impact on the pricetags of our food, homes, and hotels. Although, because these small differences add up when you buy in quantity, look for the rich cats to vociferously defend the status quo to maintain profit margins and an inexpensive, if illegal, workforce.
"If I'm buying just one home, there's not that big an impact," Chiswick [an economist at the University of Illinois, Chicago] said. "But if I'm building a lot of homes and I can save a few thousand on each one.... "
Of course, the "illegal-immigrant discount" affects different layers of society differently.
The more often you eat out, stay in hotels or get your yard trimmed, the more you benefit from the illegal-immigrant discount.
And by increasing the supply of low-skilled labor relative to high-skilled labor, illegal immigration effectively boosts the purchasing power of the better-educated, more-skilled — and richer — portion of society.
See the whole report here: