E.g., 08/02/2014
E.g., 08/02/2014

Brain Waste in the Workforce: Select U.S. and State Characteristics of College-Educated Native-Born and Immigrant Adults

Fact Sheets
May 2014

Brain Waste in the Workforce: Select U.S. and State Characteristics of College-Educated Native-Born and Immigrant Adults

MPI research in the United States and Europe has demonstrated the challenges facing foreign-educated individuals who seek high-skilled employment that utilizes their talents and professional experience. In the United States, these challenges include difficulties in obtaining recognition of professional experiences and credentials earned from educational institutions abroad, acquiring professional-level English skills, navigating costly or time-consuming recertification processes, and building professional networks and U.S. job search skills.

In a series of fact sheets available here focusing on the United States and a dozen key states, MPI assesses the extent of “brain waste”—that is, the number of college-educated immigrant  and native-born adults ages 25 and older who are either unemployed or have jobs that are significantly below their education and skill levels. The fact sheets also offer calculations nationally and at state levels of underutilization of education among immigrant and native-born professionals with engineering, nursing, and teaching degrees at the undergraduate level. Individual fact sheets for the 12 states with the largest college-educated immigrant populations in the U.S. civilian workforce can be accessed below.

Among the key U.S. findings:

  • 1.6 million, or 23 percent, of the nearly 7.2 million college-educated immigrants ages 25 and older in the U.S. civilian labor force are affected by brain waste.
  • Brain waste particularly affects the foreign born who earned their bachelor’s degrees abroad, with 26 percent in low-skilled jobs or unemployed.
  • 20 percent of college-educated immigrants who obtained their academic degree abroad worked in low-skilled jobs, compared to 12 percent of college-educated native-born workers.

State Fact Sheets
 

Brain Waste in the California Workforce
Nearly 390,000 college-educated immigrants in California’s civilian labor force are working in low-skilled jobs or are unemployed—in other words, 23 percent of the 1.7 million foreign born ages 25 and older in the state workforce are affected by brain waste.

Brain Waste in the Florida Workforce
Twenty-eight percent of Florida’s 576,000 college-educated immigrants ages 25 and older in the civilian labor force are affected by brain waste—in other words are employed in low-skilled jobs or are unemployed.

Brain Waste in the Georgia Workforce
Twenty-one percent of the 174,000 college-educated immigrants ages 25 and older in the Georgia civilian workforce are employed in low-skilled jobs or are unemployed, with this phenomenon of “brain waste” falling harder on those who earned their bachelor’s degree abroad.

Brain Waste in the Illinois Workforce
Twenty-four percent of the 334,000 college-educated immigrants ages 25 and older in the civilian labor force in Illinois are in low-skilled jobs or are unemployed, with those who have earned their bachelor’s degree abroad particularly affected by brain waste.

Brain Waste in the Maryland Workforce
Nearly 44,000 college-educated immigrants ages 25 and older in the Maryland civilian workforce are employed in low-skilled jobs or are unemployed, representing 20 percent of the state’s 223,000 foreign-born workers with college degrees.

Brain Waste in the Massachusetts Workforce
Twenty-one percent of the more than 230,000 college-educated immigrants ages 25 and older in the civilian labor force in Massachusetts work in low-skilled jobs or are unemployed, according to MPI analysis of the most recent U.S. Census Bureau data.

Brain Waste in the New Jersey Workforce
Twenty-two percent of the 462,000 college-educated immigrants ages 25 and older in New Jersey’s civilian workforce are affected by brain waste, meaning that they are employed in low-skilled jobs or are unable to find employment.

Brain Waste in the New York Workforce
Of the 831,000 college-educated immigrants ages 25 and older in the New  York civilian labor force, 24 percent (or 203,000) work in low-skilled jobs or are unemployed—a phenomenon referred to as “brain waste.”

Brain Waste in the Pennsylvania Workforce
More than 35,000 people, or 20 percent of the 174,000 college-educated immigrants ages 25 and older in the Pennsylvania civilian workforce, are employed in low-skilled jobs or are unemployed. This phenomenon of brain waste particularly affects the foreign born who earned their bachelor’s degrees abroad.

Brain Waste in the Texas Workforce
Twenty percent of the 556,000 college-educated immigrants ages 25 and older in the Texas civilian workforce are employed in low-skilled jobs or are unemployed, according to MPI analysis of U.S. Census Bureau data.

Brain Waste in the Virginia Workforce
Twenty-one percent of the nearly 245,000 college-educated immigrants ages 25 and older in the Virginia civilian workforce are affected by brain waste—in other words are unemployed or are working in low-skilled jobs. This phenomenon particularly affects those who have earned their bachelor’s degrees abroad.

Brain Waste in the Washington State Workforce
Nineteen percent of the nearly 167,000 college-educated immigrants ages 25 and older in the civilian labor force in Washington State work in low-skilled jobs or are unemployed, with slightly higher levels of brain waste experienced by those who have earned their bachelor’s degree abroad.

Table of Contents 

I. College-Educated Adults in the Civilian Labor Force by Nativity and Place of Education

II. College-Educated Native-Born and Foreign-Born Adults by Job Skill and Place of Education with Number and Share Affected by Brain Waste

III. Number and Share of Immigrants with Engineering, Nursing, or Teaching Degrees Earned at the Undergraduate Level

IV. Adults Who Earned Bachelor's Degres in Engineering, Nursing, or Teaching by Job Skill, Nativity, and Place of Education for Foreign Born