New policy brief examines how immigration affects Ohio and the U.S. workforce

March 26, 2021

COLUMBUS, OH - A policy brief just released by the C. William Swank Program in Rural-Urban Policy titled “Immigration, Jobs, Crime, and Workforce Availability: How Does Immigration Affect Ohio and the USA?” looks at existing evidence of the effect of immigration on socioeconomic outcomes for those born in the U.S. 

The goal of the brief authored by Dr. Mark Partridge, professor and chair of the C. William Swank Program in Rural-Urban Policy, and PhD candidate Sydney Schreiner, is to examine the immigration landscape in the U.S. and specifically, the state of Ohio, to better understand the characteristics of the immigrant population and how policy can be adopted to maximize benefits for Ohio. 

With the election of President Joe Biden, U.S. immigration policy is expected to shift towards family unification and supporting U.S. immigrants by providing resources to help with language barriers and financial management. The brief also dispels myths around how immigrants affect wages and crime rates.  

“Existing economic studies show that immigrants in the US. have a relatively small effect on the wages of natives,” said Partridge. “Some think new migrants take jobs away from existing residents but really, their moving into an area creates economic opportunity.”

They also find that immigrants are no more likely to commit crimes than natives and have a relatively smaller impact on the tax burden of natives today than in earlier decades (it typically takes five years of U.S. residence before immigrants qualify for most welfare programs).

Further, the number of immigrants coming into the country has slowed since the 2008-09 recession and today’s immigrant population looks very different with respect to educational attainment, labor market outcomes, and industry and occupation of employment depending on the part of the country being considered. 

“Ohio’s immigrant population is more educated and more likely to work in high-skill sectors and work in "white-collar” occupations in management, business, science, and arts,” said Schreiner. “They are more educated than Ohio’s native population on average, so they make an important contribution in alleviating a brain-drain out of state.”

The research suggests that the net effect of immigrants on American society is largely positive, especially in the long-run. The debate about immigration policy is likely to continue until citizens and policymakers can agree on the proper goals for the national immigration system and implement a system that is not viewed as creating significant social change at a pace that seems too rapid for large numbers of Americans.


Mark Partridge,

Sydney Schreiner,