GOP State Sen. Scott Beason, Speaker Mike Hubbard and US Rep. Mo Brooks (doesn’t he brag about having an econ. degree?) continue to stick by their talking point: HB56 is a “jobs bill.” (They may be trying the: “if we repeat it enough, it will be true” strategy.”)

However, following in a long line of economists all saying HB56 is a jobs-killer is Economics Prof. Art Carden. (This line may be longer than the line to get a driver’s license after HB56.)

This week Joey Kennedy wrote:

State Sen. Scott Beason, R-Gardendale, calls the immigration law a jobs bill. More a jobs-killer bill, says Art Carden, an assistant professor of economics at Rhodes College in Memphis. . .

Carden referred me to an essay by Ben Powell, a professor of economics at Suffolk University in Boston. In a 2010 column for the “Library of Economics and Liberty,” one of the top economics websites in the nation, Powell debunks the main myths used by supporters of tough immigration laws: Immigrants are not a drag on the economy; they don’t take jobs from the native-born population; they don’t depress overall wage rates.

Powell, in his article, concludes that immigrants are not a drag, but a benefit to the economy:

Harvard Economist George Borjas is probably the most established academic critic of immigration. But even he admits that immigrants create net benefits for the native-born . . . economists have wide agreement that immigration, like free trade, brings net benefits to the existing native-born population.

But for the Beason, Hubbard, and Brooks “Jobs” rhetoric, Powell sharply disagrees:

That immigrants “take our jobs” is probably the most repeated and most economically ignorant objection to immigration. It’s a classic example of Bastiat’s ‘what is seen and what is not.’ Everyone can see when an immigrant takes a job that used to be held by a native-born worker. But not everyone sees the secondary consequence of the new jobs that are created because native-born labor has been freed up for more-productive uses. In the market’s process of creative destruction, jobs are created and destroyed all the time.

Actually, Prof. Powell summarizes his article in this video:

This only corroborates the findings of all other evidence discussed here, here, here. But maybe you think all of these are economic “quacks:” try former Federal Reserve chairman, Alan Greenspan, then.

But there is little doubt that unauthorized, that is, illegal, immigration has made a significant contribution to the growth of our economy. Between 2000 and 2007, for example, it accounted for more than a sixth of the increase in our total civilian labor force. The illegal part of the civilian labor force diminished last year as the economy slowed, though illegals still comprised an estimated 5% of our total civilian labor force. Unauthorized immigrants serve as a flexible component of our workforce, often a safety valve when demand is pressing and among the first to be discharged when the economy falters.

Some evidence suggests that unskilled illegal immigrants (almost all from Latin America) marginally suppress wage levels of native-born Americans without a high school diploma, and impose significant costs on some state and local governments.

However the estimated wage suppression and fiscal costs are relatively small, and
economists generally view the overall economic benefits of this workforce as significantly outweighing the costs. Accordingly, I hope some temporary worker program can be crafted.