TABLE 4.2 Percentage of Immigrants in Import-Intensive, Export-Intensive, and Other Industries, 1990


Percentage of Immigrants

Import-intensive manufacturing industries


Top 10% of import-intensive


Export-intensive manufacturing industries


Top 10% of export-intensive




Service industries (nonmanufacturing; nonagricultural)


Retail trade


Personal services (nonhousehold)


Household services



Source: Calculated from U.S. Bureau of the Census (1993). Percentage of immigrants in import-intensive and export-intensive industries defined as a weighted average percentage of immigrants in an industry, where the weights are the industry share of imports or exports. See Borjas et al. (1997).

ing industries.16 Finally, immigrants are more likely to work in manufacturing than in services (which are usually nontraded), but they are overrepresented in several service sector areas.

Returns to Scale, Bottlenecks, and Externalities

There are other channels by which immigration can affect the domestic economy and native workers. In addition to its direct effects through increasing the labor supply, immigration may have indirect effects on national output and the job market. It may create externalities of various forms, for instance, through economies of scale in production; or it may alter the demand for products, or change the composition of industrial output and the terms of trade (the price of exports relative to imports).


However, in agriculture, a major U.S. exporter, immigrants are an important input, making up 14.7 percent of the workforce.

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