Illegal Aliens:

Influence of Illegal Workers on Wages and Working Conditions of Legal Workers

PEMD-88-13BR: Published: Mar 10, 1988. Publicly Released: Mar 10, 1988.

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Pursuant to a congressional request, GAO provided information on illegal alien workers in the U.S. market, specifically whether: (1) they depressed wages and worsened working conditions for native and legal workers; and (2) their presence in an industry was associated with a declining business environment.

GAO noted that there was little useful evidence to conclusively answer the questions. GAO found that illegal alien workers: (1) generally received low wages; (2) have exerted downward pressure on wages and working conditions within low-wage, unskilled jobs in the agricultural, food processing, and janitorial sectors; and (3) have stimulated business and expanded employment opportunities for legal and native workers in other sectors, including the garment industry. GAO also found that illegal aliens worked in: (1) expanding and stable industries as well as in declining industries; and (2) healthy subsectors of declining industries.

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