This working paper by Pia M. Orrenius and Madeline Zavodny, which was released by the Federal Reserve Bank of Dallas this month at http://www.dallasfed.org/assets/documents/research/papers/2014/wp1403.pdf, contains analysis of data from the U.S. Census Bureau’s Current Population Survey. The abstract to the paper provides the following:
A number of states have adopted laws that require employers to use the federal government’s E-Verify program to check workers’ eligibility to work legally in the United States. Using data from the Current Population Survey, this study examines whether such laws affect labor market outcomes among Mexican immigrants who are likely to be unauthorized. We find evidence that E-Verify mandates reduce average hourly earnings among likely unauthorized male Mexican immigrants while increasing labor force participation and employment among likely unauthorized female Mexican immigrants. In contrast, the mandates appear to lead to better labor market outcomes among workers likely to compete with unauthorized immigrants. Employment and earnings rise among male Mexican immigrants who are naturalized citizens in states that adopt E-Verify mandates, and earnings rise among U.S.-born Hispanic men.
And, in the conclusion, the authors state the following:
A growing number of states require employers to verify workers’ employment eligibility. Using data from 2002-2012, we find that universal E-Verify mandates appear to reduce hourly earnings by about 8 percent among male Mexican immigrants who are likely to be unauthorized, and this effect is concentrated among long-term U.S. residents. We do not find evidence that E-Verify mandates reduce employment among likely unauthorized Mexican immigrants. On the contrary, women’s employment increases in states that adopt E-Verify mandates. Lower earnings among men may induce some women to enter the labor market, while men may move away from states that adopt E-Verify mandates, cushioning the disemployment impact. Taken as a whole, the results indicate that E-Verify mandates to date are largely successful in achieving the goal of worsening labor market outcomes among unauthorized immigrants.
Another goal of E-Verify mandates is to improve labor market outcomes for U.S. natives who may compete with unauthorized immigrants. We find some evidence that the laws achieve this objective, although positive effects are more prominent for Mexican immigrants who are naturalized U.S. citizens than for U.S.-born Hispanics. The adoption of E-Verify mandates does not appear to affect labor market outcomes among non-Hispanic whites either positively or negatively.
There are several caveats to our results. Migration to other states may reduce the impact of E-Verify mandates. In addition, there are a number of shortcomings with regard to what we know about employment eligibility verification mandates. We are unable to identify mandates that are strictly enforced from those that are merely “on the books.” We do not know the extent of federal audits and other enforcement activities, which may be correlated with state mandates. We also are unable to examine the extent of E-Verify use in states that have not adopted mandates. Corporations with nationwide operations that implement E-Verify in one state may decide to extend that corporate policy to other states.
Despite these limitations, this study offers new evidence on the effects of E-Verify mandates. In particular, we fail to find evidence of significant negative employment effects among likely unauthorized Mexican immigrants, although we do find evidence of sizable negative earnings effects among men. If more states implement employment verification, unauthorized workers will likely have even lower wages and may not be able to avoid disemployment effects by moving to a state that does not have a mandate in place. This suggests E-Verify can be a powerful interior enforcement tool but could also lead to higher poverty and more social assistance needs among the unauthorized immigrant population. E-Verify mandates might be used more effectively and with fewer unintended consequences as part of a comprehensive immigration reform where they would be a deterrent to future unauthorized immigration.