By moving around the country to pursue job opportunities, Mexican-born, low-skilled workers help to stabilize local economies for native-born workers, according to a study released by the National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER) on Monday. In a study based on patterns during the Great Recession, researchers Brian Cadena and Brian Kovak found that Mexican-born workers are much more likely than native workers to move where the jobs are. This means that Mexican-born workers leave depressed cities to fulfill the huge job demand of another city, decreasing demand in cities with lower employment for the native-born workers left behind.
They found that, “natives living in cities with many similarly skilled Mexicans were thus insulated from local shocks, as the departure of Mexican workers absorbed part of the demand decline.” The study bolsters other research that finds that immigrants provide complementary skills to native-born workers.
Cadena and Kovak surmise that Mexican-born workers move around so often because they cannot qualify for benefits like unemployment insurance so they need to constantly stay employed. The majority of jobs created since the recession are generally low-wage and often are created with the intent to hire undocumented immigrants, who are very often Mexican-born. The surge in temporary jobs also contributes to temporary workers scrambling to move from one location to another.