Chicago's Undocumented Immigrants: An Analysis of Wages, Working Conditions, and Economic Contributions

Undocumented immigrants are strongly committed to working in the United States and they make significant contributions to the economy. Undocumented workers account for approximately 5% of the Chicago metro area labor market and represent a growing segment of the low-wage workforce. Undocumented immigrants earn low wages, work in unsafe conditions, and have low rates of health insurance. Juxtaposed against these harsh realities is the fact that the undocumented workforce supports thousands of other workers in the local economy, pays taxes, and demonstrates little reliance on government benefits.

This study reports the findings of a survey of 1,653 documented and undocumented immigrants living in the Chicago metro area. Using a standardized questionnaire, immigrants were asked a series of questions regarding their employment status, wages and working conditions, access to health care, utilization of government safety-net programs, demographic characteristics, and legal status.

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