Obama: Immigrants Aren’t Bringing Wages Down

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Rachel Stoltzfoos Staff Reporter
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President Barack Obama said immigrants are not holding down U.S. wages in his State of the Union address Tuesday, placing blame for stubbornly stagnant wages on greedy business executives.

“Immigrants aren’t the principal reason wages haven’t gone up enough,” he said. “Those decisions are made in the boardrooms that all too often put quarterly earnings over long-term returns.”

“I believe that in this new economy, workers, small businesses and startups need more of a voice, not less,” he added. (RELATED: HP Dumps 30,000 Workers, While Demanding More H-1Bs)

Wages and share of income for the bottom 90 percent of American wage-earners declined over the past 40 years, as the foreign-born population increased dramatically. Since 1970, the foreign-born population of the U.S. increased 325 percent, the Congressional Research Service found, while wages for the bottom 90 percent of earners decreased by 8 percent, and their share of income by 16 percent. (RELATED: Media Ignores Evidence Americans Want To Reduce Legal Immigration)

(Congressional Research Service)

(Congressional Research Service)

And the decline in wages is hitting workers the most in industries where demand for work is increasing, a study by the National Employment Law Project found. One explanation via the Brookings Institution is that immigrants fill a disproportionate share of those jobs. (RELATED: WSJ Admits Migrant Surge Will Burden Europe’s Economy)

A 2012 Brookings Institution report found that many of the jobs in the occupations deemed fastest-growing by the Bureau of Labor Statistics are going to immigrants — in many of the same occupations The New York Times reported have seen the greatest decline in wages in recent years.

The foreign-born population will reach 51 million by 2023, which is the largest share of total population ever recorded in American history, the U.S. Census Bureau recently projected.

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