Immigration to fuel US workforce growth

immigration will be the only significant source of growth in the American workforce over the next 15 years, concludes a new report by The Conference Board.

The report, Importing a Solution: Can Immigration Help Mitigate Looming Labour Shortages?, examines the role foreign-born workers will play in meeting future demand for the country’s workforce in several key occupations .

“US businesses must prepare for an era of near-zero working age population growth, which will present elevated labour shortage risk in many key job categories, including health care, skilled trade, mathematical and statistical occupations,” said Brian Schaitkin, Senior Economist at The Conference Board and author of the report. “Immigration will be a key factor in meeting the demand to fill these roles.”

While immigration has been a focus during this election year, the study examines the particular role foreign-born workers will play in fuelling the workforce in specific occupations and locations.

Several key findings of the report include:

– As the US population ages and demand for health services grows, foreign-born workers will play a critical role in meeting future needs for doctors, registered nurses and home health aides.

– High rates of immigrant entry have helped ensure that most computer specialist occupations face low future labour shortage risk. These workers will provide a large number of data scientists who are an essential component of the US economy’s ongoing digital transformation.

– The composition of the immigrant pool has undergone major changes in the last decade. Between 2005 and 2013, immigration from Mexico declined by more than 60 per cent. In contrast, immigrants from throughout Asia, especially those from China and India, have been arriving in the US in larger numbers.

– Using a new method for identifying undocumented immigrants in labour force surveys, the report concludes that while these immigrants are currently concentrated in occupations having low future labour shortage risk, their role could change if the threat of deportation were reduced.

Article published 4th October 2016