Wednesday, December 28, 2011

The role of undocumented immigrant workers in Colorado's economy, our fourth-most popular research of 2011

The effects of undocumented immigrant workers on Colorado's economy were again a hot topic in 2011, generating the fourth-highest number of visits to our website among the Colorado Center on Law and Policy's research products during the past year. Here's how the paper starts off:

Undocumented immigrant workers in Colorado play an important role in the state's economy
The number of undocumented immigrants in Colorado has increased enormously during the past 20 years. While that number has gone down since mid-decade, the issue of undocumented immigration continues to be controversial, as Colorado struggles with the effects of the worst recession since the Great Depression and the budget woes that have followed.

In that debate, some argue undocumented immigrants cost Colorado by taking jobs and enrolling in state programs. This analysis shows, however, that far from being an economic drain, undocumented immigrants who live and work in Colorado contribute significantly to the state’s economy.

For every job in the state occupied by an undocumented immigrant, another 0.8 jobs are created. And for every dollar of wages an undocumented immigrant worker collects, another 80 cents of wages are generated. Colorado lawmakers ought to keep those factors in mind as they consider immigration policy.

The latest data show unauthorized immigrants make up 5 percent of the state workforce and 3 percent of incomes. Working in the state, unauthorized immigrants create economic impact and jobs beyond their own employment as their earnings are re-spent, and their production spurs business-to-business activity.

The paper was written by Alec Harris, a former policy analyst for the Colorado Fiscal Policy Institute, a project of CCLP. Read the full report on our website.

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