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Tuesday, August 9, 2016

Illegal Immigrant Outflows, What Economic Recovery, & Why Are We Discussing A Wall?

The population of illegal immigrants in America peaked in 2007 and has been declining since while the annual flow of legal immigrants peaked in 2006 and has been decelerating since, based on estimates from the Pew Research Center and US Dept. of Homeland Security (outlined HERE).

Since at least 1981, during each recession there was a slowdown in the growth or outright downturn in the illegal population within the US.  However, in each recovery following the recession, there was an upturn as plentiful jobs and relatively high wages that tempted foreigners to come to the US illegally.  However, like so many indicators since the official end of the recession, this time is different.

  • In the seven years since the 2007 peak, the illegal population has declined by a half million or about a 4% decline in the illegal population in the US.  This action is more typically associated with recession than a recovery now seven years old.
  • Despite BLS claims of full employment and labor shortages, potential illegals are not seeing the opportunity (at least not on a net basis).
  • Also noteworthy is if illegals are, on a net basis, leaving...why would the US go to the trouble of building a wall?  Is it to keep them out or keep them in?
The chart below shows total illegal population (blue line) and recessions (pink columns).  Note the lack of growth among illegals since '07 vs. previous recoveries.

The chart below details the total immigration (legal + illegal) into the US over like seven year periods back to 1971.  The 2008-->14 period was the slowest net growth since 1978-->84.

Below, a breakdown (by period) of the growth in US legal vs. illegal immigrants back to 1985.  Note the net outflow of illegal immigrants since '07 is unlike any previous period.

Global Perspective on Immigration
To add some perspective, below are the immigration rates as a % (per period) of the host nations population.  The US is among the lowest immigration rates in the OECD according to the source data available from the OECD.

Total immigrants (by period) per major OECD nations.  The US has the largest net inflow but Germany, Spain, and UK are also seeing large total immigrations.
Noteworthy, the surging immigration into Germany, the decelerating US, and the significant declines of immigrants to Spain.  And as of 2013, German annual immigrant inflows have surpassed that of the US.
Conclusion -
In no way am I advocating for more or less immigrants into the US, but it is very surprising that the US is allowing the lowest net immigrants (as a %) among the OECD and decelerating in total.  Typical behavior in a slowdown, particularly a demographically driven slowdown, is to open the floodgates to immigration.  Curious the US is seemingly trending away from the path most of the EU has chosen.  And this is one area where the next President may have significant impact...immigration policy and the significant impacts a growing population has on economic demand.  Of course, whether infinite population growth or immigration absent adequate job growth makes sense...these and so many more questions of substance will never be asked nor answered in any presidential debate.


  1. Chris,
    Yet another KISS powerful piece of analysis...who the hell are you anyways? You can't be NSA/Goldman Sachs et al or you would have either been Edward Snowdened or fired for "lack" of cause and blackballed...

    Perhaps you are looking for a job? Wish I was in a position to do so, for both our sakes : ) But if indeed a job is in your sights, then simply draw diametrically opposed conclusions from your splendid analysis and all will be well : )

    Best Regards,


    1. Don - real kind words (I No, not looking for a job. However, my wife is looking for a job for me and would be willing to interview in my place, if necessary. Nah, I don't trade, I don't look for Machiavellian advantage from my analysis. But if you find advantage, good on ya.

    2. Don - also, got to be honest, over the lifetime of this blog I have earned $, I'm pretty much set of life.

    3. Chris, you inferred my intent correctly : ) Good for your wife. She is just looking after her "prince", much like Machiavelli did for his. Ergo, as far as being set for life, I'll defer to her on that question : )

      Perhaps the fact that you don't trade gives your analysis such penetrating value. Talking one's book can be soooo tiresome...besides, cognitive dissonance abounds already.

      If you're ever near Toronto someday, please give me a ping.

      Finally, please do not quit your day job, I look forward to reading your insights too much.

      Best Regards,


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  3. Immigration reversal ? ! This is PURE Leftist propaganda. Just go to any of the largest cities in the U.S. and you will see hoards of Illegals - who don't speak English. ELEVEN MILLION my fat pitooty ! You can either believe me - or your lyin eyes !

    1. That's a I'm a lefty!?! I think the data provided by the Pew Research Center dovetails with the net minimal job growth since '07. And my point isn't the total # of illegal immigrants but the flow (even the Pew and Homeland total #'s vary significantly). Still, I'm more leery of the Homeland Security data. I'd be happy to include other credible sources of data if you can shoot me the link.


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