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What is Barry Chiswick trying to say in "The Worker Next Door"? What's his point? Is he trying to point out that immigration is good for us or that if there were higher wages, anyone, including Americans, can do the "dirty" jobs?

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Barry Chiswick's point is that low-skilled immigrant labor reduces the quality of life for low-skilled American workers—who may be the worker next door to you—while detrimentally increasing income inequality between American rich and poor, which has been growing more pronounced during recent decades. Chiswick's point is that since these declines in income and income equity are occurring, it makes more fiscal sense to import goods for consumers rather than to import people to do types of work "for which we [the United States] lack a comparative advantage." His point is that importing labor as immigrant workers runs counter to advancing the growth of America's economy.

Chiswick is not saying that immigrant labor is good for the United States. To the contrary, he appeals to American "genius" for finding "alternative ways of doing things" through "ingenuity" and "flexibility." He posits that if immigrant labor were cut off, the alternative of using low-skilled American labor would provide the US economy a "prime engine of economic growth and change." He is saying that employing low-skilled American labor, "high school or college students, housewives or the retired," would reverse the "stagnation of wages" afflicting all low-skilled laborers.

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Barry Chiswick, in his article “The Worker Next Door” is trying to say that America does not necessarily need foreign low skilled workers to do “dirty” jobs in the country. He looks at states with low levels of foreign low-skilled laborers and observes that the so-called dirty jobs are completed in these states, regardless of the short supply of foreign workers. Considering that a large percentage of the low-skilled worker population actually consists of people who are natives to the United States, Chiswick wonders why it is necessary for the country to import foreign low-skilled labor when the local supply of this labor sufficiently meets the requirements of the country. He maintains that the net effect of increased importation of this kind of labor is a “decrease in the purchasing power of low-skilled families” and an increase in the “buying power of high-income households”, hence increased income inequality within the country. He posits that reduced immigration of low-skilled workers would increase the demand for these kinds of workers, resulting in improved worker wages, and many other benefits. Thus, Chiswick is trying to say that immigration of low-skilled workers is not good for the country.

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Chiswick is not saying that immigration is good for us.  He only says that at the beginning of the article as a way of setting up the opponents' argument so that he can knock it down.

What Chiswick is saying is that there are plenty of Americans who already do the "dirty jobs."  He is saying that if there were fewer low-skilled immigrants there would be no choice but to have Americans do those jobs.  Wages for those American workers would go up because there would be fewer workers to drive wages down.  

Chiswick is also saying that there would be other impacts.  Prices for some things we buy would go up because the workers would be making more money.  But those workers would have more money and would be able to buy things and help the economy grow.

Overall, then, Chiswick is saying that fewer low-skilled immigrants would force employers to hire American workers and that the lack of competition would drive wages up.

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