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Fox Business host John Stossel invited economist Ben Powell to debunk the widely held right-wing media myth that immigration takes jobs away from American workers. Powell explained that immigration actually creates jobs and better opportunities for Americans.
For years, conservative media have claimed that immigrants hurt the economy by stealing jobs from American workers. Powell explained that immigration actually helps the economy and "frees up American labor to do the things we're better suited to do, and that creates jobs."
From the November 9 edition of Fox Business' Stossel:
JOHN STOSSEL: The people who say they take jobs. It's logical. They do take some jobs. So what's your answer to that?
BEN POWELL: That on net they don't take jobs. Immigrants both take jobs and create jobs.
STOSSEL: The seen versus the unseen. Explain that.
POWELL: You can take this camera that I'm looking at right now and you can stick on somebody who used to do, say, landscaping, and you can say, "I used to do this job and look, there's an immigrant doing that job right now." That's the displace -- but also, it frees up American labor to do the things we're better suited to do, and that creates jobs. But those jobs are statistical because jobs are created because of technological changes, changes in resource costs, all sorts of things. So it's hard to stick a camera on the person who got the job, but it's certainly real. Just think about what's happened to the size of the labor force since the end of World War II. We've had massive entry of women, baby boomers, and after 1965, immigrants into the work force. We've roughly tripled the size of the civilian labor force, but we've seen no long-term increase in unemployment. As we've almost tripled the number of workers, we've almost tripled the number of jobs. We have a limitless desire for goods and services. As we get more workers, we put them to work doing those things.
Even the low-skilled ones [immigrants] who don't create businesses that create jobs perform tasks that their labor is better suited to than the American labor. The case for more immigration into the United States as an economic gain to us is the exact same as for international trade in goods and services. It's not about net number of jobs, it's about changing the mix of jobs so that the native-born citizens do the things we're better suited to do. When the brain surgeon hires an immigrant to mow his lawn, that frees him up to do more brain surgeries, making us more productive.