Amid the demonization and fear-mongering that too often characterizes the immigration issue these days, it is helpful to have a perspective of what immigration means for the economy.
As revealed in a new state-by-state study of immigration and its impact on economies, immigration continues to play the same vital role it always has played in driving social and economic dynamism. The study found that to be especially true in Pennsylvania.
Pennsylvania ranked 14th nationally in terms of immigrants’ overall economic impact and 8th in the crucial category of “brain gain and innovation.” Clearly, imported talent plays a massive role in maintaining the competitiveness of the state’s major research universities and high-technology industries. The state also was the sixth in the number of foreign students enrolled in higher education.
But the impact is substantial across the economic spectrum. As reported by Pennsylvania Capital Star, immigration reversed long-time population decline in Erie as of 2018. Immigration also has played a major role in stabilizing Scranton’s population, which likely will be verified by the impending census.
The impact is not uniform or even, of course. It varies by region. But the variability primarily is in the degree of benefit; there was no region of the state where immigrants were found to be an economic drain.
Immigration opponents often claim that newcomers overwhelm social services, but that rarely is the case. The principal pressure is on public school systems, since about 23% of all U.S. schoolchildren are from immigrant households.
But that cost is less than the economic benefits of immigration. As law professor Alan Hyde of Rutgers University told Wallet Hub: “Immigrants start, net, all new businesses in the U.S. They revitalize cities. Their neighborhoods are low-crime. They fill many important jobs. Their taxes and Social Security contributions keep the systems afloat. Their principal cost is public education since one-quarter of U.S. schoolchildren are immigrants or their children. We educate children so that they will be even more productive than their parents, and this bet has historically paid off for immigrants with spectacular returns on investment in education.”
With the census and presidential and congressional elections looming, Pennsylvania residents should recognize the value of immigrants.