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Rubio Is Wrong

Here’s a letter to the New York Post:


Sen. Marco Rubio (R-FL) has only himself to blame if readers of his book excerpt come away skeptical of his arguments about immigration (“Marco Rubio’s new book explains how globalizing the US economy transformed immigration,” June 10). Rubio conveys the impression that, since the early 1990s, globalization has turned the American economy into a hellscape marked by deindustrialization and wage stagnation. Yet this dismal tale is utterly false.

The real value of American industrial output is today 71 percent higher than it was at the end of the early 1990s recession (March 1991). Unsurprisingly, therefore, compared to its level of 32 years ago America’s industrial capacity is today 69 percent larger. As for wages, economist Michael Strain documents that the average inflation-adjusted wage for America’s production and nonsupervisory workers was, just before the pandemic, at an all-time high and about 34 percent higher than it was in the early 1990s.

Strain shows also that, while households earning inflation-adjusted before-tax annual incomes between $35K and $100K have fallen as a percentage of all American households, the reason is not because the share of households earning less than $35K has increased; it’s because what has increased is the share of households earning more than $100K.*

Contrary to the impression conveyed by Rubio, globalization over the past three decades has been a boon, not a burden, to the great majority of ordinary Americans.

Donald J. Boudreaux
Professor of Economics
Martha and Nelson Getchell Chair for the Study of Free Market Capitalism at the Mercatus Center
George Mason University
Fairfax, VA 22030

* Michael R. Strain, The American Dream Is Not Dead (But Populism Could Kill It) (West Conshohocken, PA: Templeton Press, 2020), pages 42 and 73.


See also Phil Gramm, Robert Ekelund, and John Early, The Myth of American Inequality (Lanham, MD: Rowman & Littlefield, 2022).