Immigration and Labor: The Economic Aspects of European Immigration to the United States

By Isaac A. Hourwich | Go to book overview

CHAPTER iV
IMMIGRATION AND THE LABOR MARKET

THE main question in all present discussion if immigration is: Does immigration injure the economic interest of the American wage-earner? The demand for restriction of immigration proceeds from the assumption that immigration overcrowds the American labor market, hordes of willing workers being driven by fear of starvation to complete for one job. To remedy this evil foreign immigration must be restricted: keep the "undesirable" immigrants out, and the American workingmen will be kept Busy. The more consistent advocates of this view, as previously stated, regard all immigrants as undesirable. It is an echo of the Malthusian theory, that population modification, however, that the cause of the disproportion is found, not in the natural propagation of the human species, but in immigration, which is believed to outrun the opportunities of employment. In order to test the accuracy of this assumption, let us first take an inventory of the growth Of population for the last twenty years.

The population of the continental United States increased between 1890 and 1910 from 63,000,000 to 92,000,000, i. e., 46 per cent. During the same period, the production of coal in the United States more than trebled, the increase being from 140,000,000 to 448,000,000 long tons.1 As the exports of coal from the United States are insig-

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1
Statistical Abstract of the United States, 1911, Table 335.

-82-

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