The Washington Post Argues for More High-Skilled Immigrants

Okay, I tricked you. The Washington Post ran an article reporting that the wages of high-skilled workers in the Washington area are rising far more rapidly than the wages of less-skilled workers. It attributes this fact primarily to technology that has reduced the demand for less-skilled workers.

Those who believe in market forces would see rising wages as evidence of a labor shortage. In other contexts (e.g. nurses, construction workers, custodians etc.) the Post has reported that the country needs immigrants to deal with such labor shortages. Surprisingly, this article did not include any discussion of the need for more high skilled immigrants.

In fairness, the article did conclude with a brief discussion of immigration and its impact on wages. It does not attempt to reconcile the claim that wages for less-skilled workers are being driven down by technology with the claim that the country is sufficiently short of such less-skilled workers, that it desperately needs immigrants.

Let me head off one attempt at reconciling these claims. Some of the jobs frequently done by immigrants at present (e.g. construction work and manufacturing jobs in food processing) used to be relatively well-paying jobs. So it is not true that immigrants simply took the lowest paying jobs that no one else would do.

--Dean Baker

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