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Big immigration reform bill, big boost to US economy? Meh.

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In general, the economic impacts seem to give more fodder to reform supporters than to critics.

As economists at the CBO put it, the reform should make both the workforce and capital investment more productive over the long term, “leading to higher GDP, higher wages, and higher interest rates.”

That view flies in the face of a longstanding concern: that immigrants will diminish job opportunities and push down wages of native-born workers. But so far, a growing body of economic research refutes this view.

Jobs and wages. With immigration reform, as with other moves that expand the number of foreign-born people in the labor force, many independent analysts don’t predict harm to average US workers.

For one thing, new foreign workers are also new consumers who fuel economic demand. So an expanding workforce doesn’t mean more people competing for the same number of jobs.

“Immigration flows are ultimately just too small as a share of the US labor force to have large impacts on wages once the labor market adjusts to the supply increase,” writes Jared Bernstein, a former Obama administration economist. “The labor force is always growing along with population, and if anything, demographics [are] pointing toward slower supply growth [of workers]."

But he argues that there’s still a significant short-term challenge, if reform is enacted.

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