Millions of US employees are supported by the immigrant workforce

Date:

Millions of US employees are supported by the immigrant workforce

  • News by AUN News correspondent
  • Tuesday, October 18, 2022.
  • AUN News – ISSN: 2949-8090

Summary:

  • We demonstrate using the “complementarity index” that immigrant workers are generally complementary to natives.

  • In reality, Figure 1 shows that most jobs with the highest immigration rates score higher than average on this metric.

  • Future job growth and immigration occupations in the upper-right quadrant have a high immigrant concentration and rapid job growth (the dotted line marks the average value in both instances).

  • For example, “home health and personal care” vocations, which include nurses and other health professionals, will add over one million new workers over the next several years.

  • To address this, our complementarity index identifies particular segments of the immigrant workforce that generate substantial and pervasive benefits for American workers.

Numerous empirical studies have established the advantages of immigration for American workers. With a few notable exceptions, it has been discovered that even immigrants with low levels of formal education have little impact on the salaries of workers with comparable levels of education.

We give a fresh viewpoint on the contribution that immigrants make to the American economy as part of the ongoing work of the Brookings Workforce of the Future initiative to explore immigration policies that benefit American workers. We demonstrate using the “complementarity index” that immigrant workers are generally complementary to natives. This is because immigrants work in occupations that serve an extensive range of industries, and many immigrant-intensive jobs complement other jobs. Given that current occupation trends and growth indicate that immigrant labour will become more and more critical to the U.S. economy in the following years, acknowledging this complementarity is crucial.

Each dot in Figure 1 represents a particular occupation. Using Census data from 2019, the vertical axis calculates the proportion of workers in that occupation who were born overseas. The complementarity index, which assesses how much each profession complements the others, is tracked on the horizontal axis. The likelihood that workers in the occupation will increase demand for other works increases with the index value.

Image 1. Complementarity in occupations and immigrantsFigure 1

According to our complementarity index, an occupation is deemed complementary to other fields if it is present in multiple industries, effectively influencing how goods and services are produced across the economy; and second, if its employment share within a given industry increases or decreases in tandem with that of other occupations, indicating that its use is closely related to that of other workers. The metric records the proportion of industries where any two jobs were present simultaneously and simultaneously expanded or contracted through time. As an illustration, we discover that the complementarity between “food and beverage serving workers” and “cooks and food preparation workers” is 0.49, a comparatively high value that shows that the two occupations were combined in 49 percent of U.S. industries while also offering a positive correlation between their employment shares.

The simple average of all these pairwise complementarities for each occupation is then used to calculate the overall complementarity index (the horizontal axis of Figure 1). For instance, “Office and Administrative Support Workers” and “Financial Specialists” are two of the most complimentary jobs. This is due to their economic pervasiveness and the likelihood that any given occupation will require administrative and financial support.

The patterns in the image show that millions of immigrants work in industries essential to the rest of the workforce, supporting millions of American employment even though there may be other explanations for these apparent connections. In reality, Figure 1 shows that most jobs with the highest immigration rates score higher than average on this metric.

Since many of these highly central occupations are anticipated to rank among the fastest expanding employment over the following several years, as shown in Figure 2, the concentration of immigrants in these occupations will continue well into the future. The vertical axis in the figure depicts the proportion of foreign-born workers in each domain in 2019. The horizontal axis displays the Bureau of Labor Statistics’ expected employment growth for each field during 2020–2030.

Image 2. Future job growth and immigration

Figure 2. Immigrants and future job growth

The occupations in the upper-right quadrant have a high immigrant concentration and rapid job growth (the dotted line marks the average value in both instances). For example, “home health and personal care” vocations, which include nurses and other health professionals, will add over one million new workers over the next several years. As of 2019, almost 25% of those employed in these positions were foreign-born.

Finding the policies with the most value presents a significant problem for policymakers. To address this, our complementarity index identifies particular segments of the immigrant workforce that generate substantial and pervasive benefits for American workers.

When we combine the two numbers, we can see that a small number of occupations are both very immigrant-intensive and rapidly expanding, as well as having a high level of overall complementarity with the rest of the economy by our metric above. These include positions like “motor vehicle operators,” “food preparation employees,” “material moving workers,” and “building cleaning and pest control personnel,” each of which requires little formal education but plays a crucial role in a variety of industrial production chains.

Finding the policies with the most value presents a significant problem for policymakers. To address this, our complementarity index identifies particular segments of the immigrant workforce that generate substantial and pervasive benefits for American workers. As a result, the score can be used as a starting point for determining which sectors of the economy would gain the most from focused immigration reforms.

Analysis by: Advocacy Unified Network

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