Justin Gest wrote an op-ed for the Wall Street Journal earlier this week that praises immigration for holding down low-skill wages. Specifically, he argues that immigration can help combat wage inflation in cities that received high levels of domestic in-migration during the pandemic.
He says that without foreign labor also flowing into those cities, wages for workers in food production, leisure and hospitality, manufacturing, and especially construction are “acutely vulnerable to labor shortages and wage inflation.”
Gest’s piece is part of a larger effort by immigration advocates to pitch foreign labor as a cure for economy-wide inflation. On that level, the argument is a bit fanciful. Low-skill wages constitute such a modest share of GDP that even major pay cuts would have only a small effect on prices nationwide.
What’s more interesting to me is how Gest and other immigration advocates so casually endorse limiting the pay of some of the poorest American workers. Didn’t we all once agree that would be a bad thing?