How the immigration change impacts jobs

Applicants arrive to speak to prospective employers at a job fair on June 11, 2012 in New York City. Obama's decision to ease restrictions on some undocumented immigrants won’t add pressure for jobs seekers in the short-term.

Jeremy Hobson: Now to that decision by President Obama on Friday to allow many young undocumented immigrants to work legally in the U.S. Critics say the move will make a tough job market here even tougher.

Marketplace's Bob Moon reports on where the policy will have the biggest effect.


Bob Moon: As many as 800,000 immigrants could benefit from the new policy, according to the Pew Hispanic Center. Those immigrants are concentrated in such states as California, Texas, Florida and New York, but they're as far flung as Illinois and Georgia.

Marta Tienda follows the demographics of immigration at Princeton University. She's not expecting a big impact to the labor market: As she sees it, the new policy just makes the jobs many of these immigrants already have... official.

Marta Tienda: The issue is whether they're going to be working "above ground," rather than "underground." The net change is likely to be very small.

Tamar Jacoby heads Immigration Works USA, a pro-reform coalition of employers. She argues that the new policy could be good for the economy in the long-term, because it gives the young immigrants a legitimate path to upward mobility.

Tamar Jacoby: This is about whether these kids get educated and give back at a level of their full potential. So from the point of view of American productivity, this is helpful, not detracting.

Even so, she says it's a small step -- not an economic game-changer.

I'm Bob Moon for Marketplace.

About the author

Bob Moon is Marketplace’s senior business correspondent, based in Los Angeles.

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