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CBO Analysis Reinforces Skilled Immigration Benefits

The nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office (CBO) has analyzed the Senate’s comprehensive immigration reform bill and reports that it would bring strong benefits to the U.S. economy, including improved productivity and deficit reduction.
In particular, the skilled-immigration reforms in the Senate bill, which we support, have the potential to create new jobs and new innovations across the economy.  CBO noted that the expansion of skilled immigration would boost American innovation and “generate additional technological advancements, such as new inventions and improvements in production processes.”
[E]mpirical research broadly suggests that an influx of immigrants, particularly highly skilled immigrants, would lead to increased innovation and task specialization.  And those improvements in turn would increase economic output for any given supply of labor and capital stock.
A substantial body of research documents certain effects of highly skilled immigrants on the U.S. economy.  For example, although immigrants constituted just 12 percent of the population in 2000, they accounted for 26 percent of U.S.-based Nobel Prize winners between 1990 and 2000, and they made up 25 percent of the founders of public-venture–backed companies started between 1990 and 2005.  Moreover, immigrants receive patents at twice the rate of the native-born U.S. population.  Logic suggests that such accomplishments should boost TFP [total factor productivity], but quantifications of that connection are few.  In one example, however, researchers demonstrated a strong correlation between the research and development undertaken by scientists and engineers and the rate of growth in TFP, implying a boost to TFP from an increase in the number of people working in fields that are related to technological innovation, such as science, technology, engineering, or mathematics.
The CBO statements reinforce the points that our nation’s technology leaders have made consistently:  The Senate’s immigration reform bill will lead to new jobs and new opportunities across the country.  Right now, skilled immigrants work, collaborate and innovate alongside our U.S. domestic workforce to generate new industries, businesses, products, and services that didn’t exist 20 years ago.  It’s a formula for success that has seen startups and opportunities emerge from Northern California to New Hampshire.  And it’s why the Senate should advance immigration reform.

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