With Millions of Unfilled U.S. Jobs, What Role Is There for Immigration?
Harry Holzer, John LaFarge Jr. S.J. Professor of Public Policy, McCourt School of Public Policy, Georgetown University; former Chief Economist, U.S. Labor Department
Jina Krause-Vilmar, President and CEO, Upwardly Global
Alexandra Manuel, Consultant, World Education Services and Washington State Professional Educator Standards Board
Muzaffar Chishti, Director, Migration Policy Institute (MPI) office at New York University School of Law, and Senior Fellow, MPI
Jeanne Batalova, Senior Policy Analyst, MPI; Manager, Migration Data Hub
The U.S. government in March announced record job vacancies, with 11.3 million unfilled positions. With an aging population, declining fertility, shifting skills needs, and the Great Resignation underway in part as baby boomers retire, the United States is experiencing a major labor market transformation that will challenge the country’s economic growth and competitiveness.
How these mega forces play out is yet to be seen. As a policy option, immigration has always been one of the levers available to address labor shortages or skills gaps. But beyond recruiting workers from abroad, developing and leveraging the skills of immigrants already in the United States represents a smart policy option. What role could underutilized high-skilled immigrant workers occupy in the changing labor market, especially in high-demand sectors such as health and education? What national and state policy options exist to maximize immigrants’ economic contributions by more fully tapping their talents and potential?
During this webcast, experts highlighted the latest demographic and labor market trends shaped by growing automation and the COVID-19 pandemic. They also discussed the merits of three policy approaches that leverage immigrants’ talents to address labor and skills shortages: tapping the existing skills of underemployed college-educated immigrants, increasing immigrant adults’ access to postsecondary credentials, and attracting new talent through the immigration system. The webinar featured the launch of an MPI issue brief on the underemployment of skilled health-care workers, Leveraging the Skills of Immigrant Health-Care Professionals in Illinois and Chicago.