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June 29, 2006

Immigration economics

Immigration is a much-debated issue today. In today's "Economic Perspective," N.C. State University's Mike Walden focuses on whether economists have reached any conclusions about the economic impact of immigrants.

"They have. One conclusion is that immigrants have been very important to the U.S. economy in terms of the sciences," says Dr. Walden, an economics specialist with the North Carolina Cooperative Extension Service. "Engineering, for example. 40 percent of all the scientists and engineers now were actually born in another country. So that’s an enormous economic contribution.

"Of course we have many low-skilled, low-wage immigrant workers and the analysis there suggests they do contribute net benefits to the private sector and they’ve helped enormously in keeping some product prices lower," he adds. "They’ve also perhaps lowered wages however in those occupations.

"I think the biggest question mark about the economics of immigration is in the public sector especially at the local level," he says. "There is some evidence that at the local level ... that the public sector costs related to immigrants may exceed the tax revenues that those folks generate."

Posted by deeshore at June 29, 2006 09:15 AM