Politics & Government

CEA: Modest growth bump from executive order

Friends Miriam Lopez, left, Faby Jacome and Dulce Saavedra and Hairo Cortes, right, console each other as they are brought to tears while watching President Obama's speech on executive action on immigration outside the Los Angeles Metropolitan Detention Center, Nov. 20, 2014 in Los Angeles, California.
Friends Miriam Lopez, left, Faby Jacome and Dulce Saavedra and Hairo Cortes, right, console each other as they are brought to tears while watching President Obama's speech on executive action on immigration outside the Los Angeles Metropolitan Detention Center, Nov. 20, 2014 in Los Angeles, California. AP

As President Barack Obama hits the road Friday to sell his executive order to grant as many as 5 million unauthorized immigrants temporary reprieve from deportation, his top economic advisers published a paper suggesting it will have only a modest economic benefit.

The White House Council of Economic Advisers said in an analysis that the order would boost economic growth by 0.4 percent over 10 years under a conservative estimate. Its less-conservative estimate suggested a growth bump of 0.9 percent over a decade.

“These estimated effects are significant but are a fraction of the economic benefits that would occur if these actions were superseded by Congressional action on commonsense immigration reform,” the CEA report said.

The non-partisan Congressional Budget Office, it noted, has estimated that an immigration-reform bill that has passed the Senate but was not taken up by the House of Representatives would boost growth by 3.3 percent or $700 billion over 10 years.

Some labor economists question whether the administration plan will actually draw workers out of the shadows and into three-year temporary work permits.

The White House’s more-conservative economic estimate said that the executive order would boost the labor force by about 150,000 over a decade, slightly improve per-worker output and raise wages for U.S.-born workers by $170 in current dollars in 2014.

Under the report’s more-optimistic estimate almost all of the improvement in per-hour output by workers would come from changes in programs that encouraged greater immigration by high-skill workers.

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