More Observations on Immigration and the California Economy
The California Immigrant Policy Center (CIPC) released a report estimating that one in ten workers in California is an illegal alien. The CIPC seemingly believes that this is a positive for Californians because illegal aliens “contribute about $130 billion of California’s GDP.” It is true that illegal aliens contribute to California’s GDP, or more correctly GSP, but that is an axiomatic statement. What the CIPC failed to point out, but FAIR did, is that while illegal aliens are 10 percent of California’s workforce they only contribute 6.5 percent of the state’s GSP. Even if legal immigrants are included, the foreign-born contribute only 31 percent of the state’s GSP while comprising 35 percent of the state’s workforce. This is partly because a high percentage of foreign workers in California are illegal aliens, but it is also the result of there being so many foreign workers, including legal immigrants and guest workers, in California. While immigration contributes to the state’s GSP, using immigration to undermine American workers creates widespread income inequality, systematic unemployment (unemployment in California is 21% higher than the national average), and massive costs to taxpayers.The CIPC also made much about occupations in California that have a high percentage of immigration workers, specifically highlighting those where illegal aliens are concentrated, stating that “they ﬁgure prominently in the agriculture, manufacturing, and repair and personal service industries. Not surprisingly the CPIC left out part of the story. In California, 83 percent of the occupations listed by the CIPC as heavily-immigrant have seen wages stagnate (rising less than $1) or decline between 1999 and 2013.A more sober analysis of California’s economy was provided by the United Way of Greater Los Angeles in 2010, which found that over the preceding decade the middle class has been “eroded” as good paying jobs in the county have vanished. The United Way also found that over the past twenty years, the average worker saw a real wage drop of almost $2 per hour, 15 percent of the population in Los Angeles County lived in poverty, including one in five children, wages had been outpaced by rental costs, and high school graduation rates were at 60 percent, 10 percent lower than the U.S. average. This is hardly the rosy picture painted by the CIPC.