DACA Recipients Have a Dramatic Increase in Wages

DACA helps DREAMers contribute more to U.S. economy.
DACA helps DREAMers contribute more to U.S. economy.

New research shows a dramatic improvement in the earning power of DREAMers who receive work permits under President Obama’s Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program. A new survey of DACA recipients shows that an astounding 96% are either employed or in school.

The survey looked at a variety of ways DACA has changed the lives of the young people who received it. One of the most important changes is in the increase in earning power. According to the report:

Nearly two-thirds of respondents—62 percent—“have been able to earn more money, which has helped me become financially independent.” Additionally, 57 percent say that earning more money “has helped my family financially.”

As Figure 3 indicates, DACA has increased average wages 45 percent, moving from $11.92 per hour before receiving DACA to $17.29 per hour after receiving it. This means an average of $5.27 more per hour and a median increase of $4. Because the baseline hourly wage is modest, and many of these individuals are new to the labor force, even relatively small wage bumps result in large percentage increases.

The findings make clear that DACA has created a way for undocumented youth to find better-paying jobs.

The chart below illustrates the gain in earning power:


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Patrick Young blogs daily for Long Island Wins. He is the Downstate Advocacy Director of the New York Immigration Coalition and Special Professor of Immigration Law at Hofstra School of Law. He served as the Director of Legal Services and Program at Central American Refugee Center (CARECEN) for three decades before retiring in 2019. Pat is also a student of immigration history and the author of The Immigrants' Civil War.

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