Will Afghan refugees affect the U.S. job market? No. 

I have estimated that some 100,000 Afghans will come to the U.S. in a post-war wave.  About perhaps half of them will join the workforce, the remaining being too young or old for the workforce, or at school, or mothers at home.

The United States has experienced waves of immigration, from Russian mathematicians to Vietnamese fishermen, as have other advanced countries. The many, many studies of the effect of these waves on employment, including native-born American employment, can be summed up as follows:  sometimes a small temporary adverse effect on wages, but usually these new workers flow into the economy without a dramatic impact.

Noah Smith has excellently addressed this issue here, citing a large sample of the research studies. “Overall, immigration — even of the lowest skilled variety — has very little or no impact on native-born wages. And sometimes even a positive impact. The most probably reason is that, as explained above, immigration boosts labor demand, not just labor supply!”

Some governors have come forward to welcome this wave, citing the need for more workers.

And an important finding: although there is an arduous language and cultural transition for refugee workers, the United States has a far better track record than does Europe in getting new refugees into the workforce. Go here.




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