Ahead of a critical Senate hearing on E-verify legislation, FWD.us on Tuesday released a new study showing potentially devastating economic consequences.
If employers all must verify employment eligibility using a federal E-verify system, the report by Dr. Rick Harper finds Florida likely will lose 253,500 jobs, $10.7 billion in earnings and $1.25 billion in state and local tax revenue.
That’s based on fallout from similar requirements put in place in other states, but experts say Florida’s dependence on construction, agriculture and tourism could make the consequences here even worse. The study also breaks down the regional impacts throughout Florida that would result from placing requirements on private employers.
“It would be a self-inflicted recession,” Ted Hutchison, Florida Director FWD.us, told Florida Politics
Harper said the study carefully examined states with similar economies and needs as Florida, and which had implemented E-verify requirements in the past.
He noted California previously had E-Verify requirements, for example, but reversed course. The state ultimately banned use of the system in 2011 after economically devastating results from even local ordinances.
Notably, the Southern California climate and resulting agriculture industry looks much like that in Florida.
“Our competitors are not growing soybeans and tobacco, like other states in the Southeast,” Harper said. “Instead, it’s tomatoes, strawberries, blueberries.”
That means Florida would be at a competitive disadvantage to states like California that don’t have E-Verify requirements if legislation here were to pass.
Harper said his study undermines certain arguments for the legislation as well. If anyone believes jobs going to agriculture workers now will instead go to native Floridians, that’s not what happened in other states. Rather, the jobs tend to either disappear, or go to documented workers now holding management positions, which means those workers as a whole get paid lower wages but the jobs numbers get lost.
Harper also noted that Florida, in a good year, will add 200,000 to 220,000 jobs. But the estimated loss from implementing E-verify requirements on employers would be the equivalent to wiping out more than a year of job growth in the Sunshine State.
Meanwhile, it may not significantly impact the number of undocumented workers in the state, but instead would change family dynamics and the type of jobs held.
“Male employment rates among undocumented individuals decreases and female employment increases as women go into domestic work, cleaning houses or working as a nanny,” he said. “That’s because household income is typically exempted.”
Overall, an estimated 31% of workers ultimately leave the workforce altogether, which isn’t good for the economy as a whole.
Harper said his study considers undocumented immigrants who send much of their income to their nations of origin. In fact, about 18% of income ends up being drawn out of the economy through such remittances, he said.
But even accounting for that, Florida would suffer nearly an $11 billion blow to earnings from implementing E-Verify requirements.
The study comes as E-Verify, a top priority for Gov. Ron DeSantis, divides Republicans in the Florida Senate.