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Immigration reform could spur housing recovery

Could grow residential construction spending by $68 billion per year

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Immigration reform in America would broaden and accelerate the current housing recovery, in addition to feeding the growth of the economy by adding new, younger workers into the labor force, a report from the Bipartisan Policy Center said.

In a report titled "Immigration Reform: Implications for Growth, Budgets, and Housing," the policy center argues that immigration reform can produce powerful economic benefits. 

Immigration reform would jump-start the housing recovery by dramatically increasing demand for housing units, growing residential construction spending by an average of $68 billion per year from fiscal year 2014 to 2023, the report said.

The 20-year period includes a peak of more than $110 billion per year in fiscal year 2022 through 2025, with the first decade’s annual average about $56 billion per year higher, and the second decade’s about $81 per year billion higher.

However, if all unauthorized workers were removed, spending would decline by more than $100 billion per year compared with the baseline, or the current projections if no change was made, and more than $175 billion per year compared to the reference case.

"The removal of all present and future unauthorized immigrants caused a significant decline in the U.S. population. The departure of current unauthorized immigrants would leave many dwellings vacant, and the reduction in future population growth would reduce the need to build additional housing units," the Bipartisan Policy Center explained.  

But the benefits of immigration reform seep even further than the housing recovery. Under the reference case, immigration reform would also: spur economic growth, reduce federal deficits, expand the labor force, offset aging of the workforce and increase long-term wages, the center said.

"Immigration reform would cause the U.S. economy to grow an additional 4.8% over a 20-year period, including 2.8% in the first decade (as measured by gross domestic product, or GDP). Annual average growth would be 0.24% higher, peaking at 0.35% in FY2019–FY2023," the report stated.  

On the other side, if all unauthorized workers were removed, it would reduce GDP by about 5.7% over the next 20 years, the policy center claims.

However, the center did note that they only examined the economic costs and benefits of reform. The report does not evaluate the complex issues regarding the security of our borders, adequacy of interior enforcement or the host of non-economic costs and benefits that diverse immigrant populations contribute to our society.

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