The White House launched a new campaign this week to build support for President Obama's executive action on immigration. Although the campaign is to feature state-by-state advantages weekly over the new few months, one of the purported nationwide benefits of the president's actions is what amounts to about a sixty-five cents a day wage increase for "U.S.-born workers." This claim appears in an annualized form in the graphic for California, the first state featured in the White House's promotional effort:
While the first two bullet items are specific to California, the final point reads, "A raise in average wages of $170 a year for U.S.-born workers across the country." Based on 260 working days a year, this comes to about sixty-five cents a day, or eight cents an hour.
The claims used in the campaign are based on a November 2014 White House Council of Economic Advisor's (CEA) document entitled "The Economic Effects of Administrative Action on Immigration." The $170 claim itself is based on the theory that encouraging more high-skilled immigration will spur innovation and have "positive spillovers on the productivity of native workers" which will eventually (the year 2024) results in the $170 per year increased touted by the White House campaign. The document acknowledges, however, that these increases will come to high school and college educated U.S. workers and not to the lesser-educated workforce.
The White House promises to deliver more state-by-state benefits over the next few months, saying, "we will profile one state a week to highlight the local economic benefits of the President’s immigration actions and to share what this means for local communities in your state." The White House website currently feature an interactive map where users are invited to "see exactly how the new steps we're taking to fix our broken immigration system will improve the economy in your state." However, at present, clicking on the map brings up only an estimate of increased GDP per state based on the CEA report.
The one state featured so far, California, lists only two rather general benefits in addition to the estimated GDP increase and sixty-five cents a day wage increase:
- An increase in revenue for California's budget.
- An increase in community investment -- in schools, homes, and businesses.
Given that the White House wishes to sell the president's actions to the general public, more specific and significant advantages to individual workers than a possible sixty-five cents a day may be necessary. As the campaign goes forward, it remains to be seen if the White House can deliver.