Wall Street Journal
By Janet Adamy
October 6, 2016
Americans are more likely to believe that immigration hurts U.S. workers instead of helping them, and their views are hardening along party lines, new research shows.
A report by the nonpartisan Pew Research Center released Thursday found that 45% of adults say the growing number of immigrants working in the U.S. hurts workers, while 42% say having more immigrants helps workers. The survey of about 5,000 adults was conducted from late May to late June.
Despite the plurality of negative views, the survey shows that Americans have grown more positive about immigrants’ impact on workers over the last decade, a period when immigration to the U.S. dipped. When Pew asked the question in 2006, 55% of respondents said immigration hurt workers, compared with 28% who said immigration helped workers.
What’s striking is how far Democrats and Republicans have diverged on the issue. Democrats view immigration’s jobs impact much more favorably now, with 58% saying it helps while 30% say it hurts. In 2006, just 30% said it helps while 54% said it hurts.
Meanwhile, Republicans have soured slightly on the issue, with 67% saying immigration hurts U.S. workers and 22% saying it helps in the recent survey. That’s compared with a 61%/24% hurts/helps split a decade ago.
New research is less equivocal on immigration’s economic impact. A study released last month from the influential National Academies of Sciences, Engineering and Medicine found that the surge in immigrants in recent decades has helped the economy and had minimal impact on wages and employment.
The Pew report also looked beyond immigration and examined how the U.S. economy is increasingly demanding skilled workers. It found that the number of workers in occupations requiring average to above-average education, training and experience rose from 49 million in 1980 to 83 million in 2015, or more than double the increase in jobs requiring less education, experience and training.
It found Americans are more uniformly concerned about outsourcing than immigration, with 80% saying that sending jobs to other countries hurts U.S. workers, and 77% saying selling more foreign-made products in the U.S. has been harmful.
Women may benefit the most from the morphing U.S. job market, Pew found. Women represent 47% of the overall workforce but make up the majority of workers in jobs where social or analytical skills are relatively more critical—job categories that are seeing the strongest growth. Men, meanwhile, are faring worse given their overrepresentation in manual labor jobs.
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