Mandatory E-Verify in Florida Would Harm Businesses and Cost the State Billions

New Report shows how Florida’s business community, specifically the hospitality, agriculture, construction, health care, and retail industries will be particularly hard-hit by a mandatory E-Verify requirement.

What are the likely costs and benefits to Floridians of making E-Verify usage mandatory for all employers? 

Mandatory adoption of E-Verify shifts some of the burden of cost and responsibility of immigration enforcement to local Florida businesses. Imposing the burden of enforcing this aspect of federal immigration law on Florida businesses will be an intrusive and possibly expensive proposition for business owners.

Economic Impact: Loss of Workers

Undocumented workers are already important contributors to the Florida economy. Of the approximately 700,000 undocumented individuals living in Florida today, about 440,000 are either working or looking for work. These workers contribute as much as $36.5 billion annually in earnings that stay in the state of Florida. Once the ripple effects of their presence in the market is accounted for, they are associated with 868,444 total jobs in Florida, and $3.9 billion annually in local and state tax revenues.  

While Florida’s national economic competitors – namely, California, New York, and Texas — have not adopted E-Verify, a number of states, primarily in the Southeast, have made its use mandatory. Using credible estimates from the literature regarding the impacts in these states, E-Verify implementation would result in some 140,000 workers lost, with a net loss of 253,500 jobs in Florida, $10.66 billion in lost earnings, and $1.25 billion in lost state and local tax revenues.

Undocumented workers...are associated with 868,444 total jobs in Florida, and $3.9 billion annually in local and state tax revenues.

Regional Economic Losses

Hospitality and construction businesses will be particularly hard-hit. Accommodation and food service businesses are projected to be the most affected, with more than 79,000 positions lost. Construction follows at 54,500 jobs, with agriculture, retail trade, and healthcare all losing more than 10,000 jobs. Additional losses are spread across other sectors. 

Regionally, losses would be felt most acutely in 16 counties in South Florida, where earnings would diminish by $6.2 billion, 145,862 jobs would be lost, and local and state tax revenues would fall by $756 million, relative to values without the implementation of mandatory E-Verify. Large losses would also occur in the 15-county Central Florida region. These losses would include a loss of $3 billion in earnings, 72,997 jobs, and $366 million in local and state tax revenues. The 36-county northern tier of the state would be somewhat less affected due to its lower population of immigrants relative to South and Central Florida. Earnings in North Florida would fall by $509 million, with 13,866 jobs lost, along with $59.2 million less in local and state tax revenues.

A Competitive Disadvantage

Southeastern states have been the majority of adopters of E-Verify. However, many of Florida’s competitor states in crop production, including California, have not mandated use of the system. Additionally, there are many warm-weather vacation destinations that attract visitors, including the Bahamas, Hawaii, the Virgin Islands, Puerto Rico, Mexico, and other locations, which compete with Florida for tourism dollars. Both the domestic visitors and prospective residents as well as immigrants from other countries that fuel Florida’s historically high population growth rates also have many destinations from which to choose. The fact that most competitor locations have not adopted E-Verify raises the likelihood of further diminishing the competitiveness of Florida businesses as they seek to sell both locally and in other U.S. states. 

At a time of tight labor markets and record low unemployment, diminishing the size of the available labor pool will predictably result in negative and costly repercussions for businesses, their customers, and Floridians generally. 

Note: the information from this brief is taken from the report below.

  1. "Assessing the Impact of Mandatory E-verify Adoption for Florida,” by Dr. Rick Harper, PhD, 2020
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