Impact of Low-Skilled Immigration on the Youth Labor Market
Immigration has long been a potent political and social issue in the United States. Never far from the top of the news cycle, debate simmers on issues such as its impact on vulnerable workers and the contributions of skilled immigrants. Moreover, scholars continue to study related dynamics such as how national coverage of the issue can spark local opposition.
A 2012 study in the Journal of Labor Economics, “The Impact of Low-Skilled Immigration on the Youth Labor Market,” looks at the relationship between rises in the immigrant labor pool and youth unemployment rates. The University of Chicago researcher analyzed four decades of U.S. Census and American Community Survey data to measure employment for native-born residents and immigration across local labor markets.
The study’s findings include:
- For each 10% rise in the number of employed immigrants with no more than a high school diploma in the labor market, high school students reduced their annual number of hours worked by 3%.
- For the same 10% increase in low-skilled immigrant employment, adults experienced only a 1% decline in the number of hours they worked.
- The labor supply of teenagers is three to five times more responsive to immigration-induced wage changes than that of native adults. This effect partially explains the larger reduction of annual hours worked by teens.
- Teenagers are more than twice as likely as adults to work in the 20 most popular jobs among immigrants, particularly food services.
“Growth in immigration appears to have reduced youth employment-population ratios over the past few decades, although other factors surely played a role,” the researcher writes. “In particular, teen employment and participation rates fell during the previous three recessions and never fully recovered, suggesting that business cycle dynamics may result in permanent shifts to labor supply or labor demand as well.”
Related research suggests that, because of a variety of additional factors, unemployment for disadvantaged youth in America remains a highly problematic issue — and results in sizable long-term societal costs.
Tags: youth, Hispanic, Latino
Note to instructor: The suggested assignments are designed for flexibility. They can be used in whole or part and can be adapted to a particular task -- for example, the newswriting assignments could be applied to the writing of the headline, the lead, the nut graph or the full story. Material from the assignments could also be combined with other material, for example, in the writing of a background, feature or local-angle story.
- Summarize the study in fewer than 40 words.
- Express the study's key term(s) in language a lay audience can understand.
- Evaluate the study's limitations. (For example: Do the results conflict with those of other reliable studies? Are there weaknesses in the study's data or research design?)
Read the issue-related Washington Times article “A Crushing Burden on Blacks.”
- If you were to revise the article based on knowledge of the study, what key changes would you make?
- Write a lead (or headline or nut graph) based on the study.
- Spend 60 minutes exploring the issue by accessing sources of information other than the study. Write a lead (or headline or nut graph) based on the study but informed by the new information. Does the new information significantly change what one would write based on the study alone?
- Interview two sources with a stake in or knowledge of the issue. Be prepared to provide them with a short summary of the study in order to get their response to it. Write a 400-word article about the study incorporating material from the interviews.
- Spend additional time exploring the issue and then write a 1,200-word background article, focusing on major aspects of the issue.