Population Research and Policy Review 16: 493–511, 1997.
1997 Kluwer Academic Publishers. Printed in the Netherlands.
Immigration and county employment growth
IA E. ENCHAUTEGUI
The Urban Institute, Washington, DC, USA
Abstract. Prior literature has found that immigrants have no effect on the wages and employ-
ment of natives. However, this literature has not accounted for the possibility that immigrants
contribute to employment growth in the areas where they locate. Research on internal migra-
tion has found that internal migrants contribute to local area employment growth. In this paper
I compare the effects of natives and immigrants on county employment. Results show that the
overall immigrant population contributes more to increases in employment than the overall
native population. Recent immigrants and recent internal in-movers have similar effects on
employment growth. The net contribution of immigrants to employment growth is conﬁned to
Recent debates on US immigration policy have focused on the impacts of
immigration on the economy and native workers. The questions usually
addressed concern whether or not immigrants take jobs away from natives
and if immigrants lower wages for US workers. Although these are impor-
tant issues, the effect of immigration on jobs and wages may be obscured by
the contribution of immigrants to employment growth, i.e., by the job cre-
ation effect of immigration. Any positive contribution of immigrants to local
employment will at least partially offset wage and displacement pressures on
local labor supply. The working hypothesis of this paper is that immigrants
attract and create employment in areas where they are concentrated.
Literature on migration and population changes suggests that migrants
stimulate increases in employment (Muth 1971; Steinnes 1977; Greenwood
& Hunt 1984; Carlino & Mills 1987). Muth (1971) focuses on how popu-
lation gains induce shifts in labor supply that result in employment gains.
Greenwood & Hunt (1984), in contrast, focus on how population gains lead
to shifts in labor demand that result in gains in employment. The contribu-
tion of internal migrants to local employment growth is attributed to positive
selectivity (Greenwood & Hunt 1984).
The effect of immigration on local area labor demand and the possibility
that immigrants provoke increases in local area employment have not been