Immigrant wages compared to native worker wages in New England

A new study from the Boston Federal Reserve bank tracks the disparity of wages between immigrant and native wages. Nationwide, the median male immigrant earned 70 percent of a male native’s wages, while female immigrants earned 84 percent of their native counterparts. According to a summary of the study by the Providence Business News, “In Massachusetts, male immigrants earned a median wage of $41,406, or 76 percent of the $54,339 earned by the median male native.”
The researcher, Harvard Kennedy School’s Antoniya Owens focused on New England states. Immigration provided most of the region’s workforce growth since at least 1990. “Owens noted that low birth rates and inward migration meant that New England was more reliant than other places on immigrants to bolster its labor force. From 1990 to 2000, New England added 181,000 immigrant workers even as it lost 1,700 native workers. From 2000 to 2006, the region added 253,900 immigrant workers and 183,400 native workers.”
Vermont is an exception to the normal direction of the disparity. “In Vermont, male immigrants earned a median of $42,114, slightly more than male natives, who earned $40,030. (Female natives earned more than their immigrant counterparts in every New England state.) That is likely due to the larger number of immigrants in northern states who hail from Canada, which gives them language and educational advantages, Owens said.”
New Engand’s immigrant workers are better educated and earn on average somewhat more than immigrants nationwide. This is driven in part by the relatively large number of immigrants in the region with advanced degrees, such as in computer sciences.
New England immigrants make up 12% of the workforce – about the same for the country as a whole, but one out of five region households include an immigrant.