America


Immigrants set to drive workforce growth in the US for next two decades

by Ray Clancy on March 22, 2017

The United States is often hailed as being an example of multi-cultural country with immigrants found in many occupations and even dominating some industry sectors.

But new research shows that there is no one area in which immigrants outnumber people born in the US and in total they make up just 17.1% of the population and are set to drive the growth of the nation’s workforce in the next two decades.

United States FlagImmigrants are, however, more likely to work in certain jobs such as sewing machine operators, plasterers, stucco masons and manicurists, according to an analysis of Government figures by the Pew Research Centre in Washington.

So there are about 27.6 million workers from outside the US out of population of 161.4 million and of these 19.6 million are in the country legally with about eight who are believed to have entered the country without legal permission or overstayed their visas.

However, around 10% of unauthorised immigrants have been granted temporary protection from deportation and eligibility to work under two federal programmes known as Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals and Temporary Protected Status.

Private households were the most immigrant intensive industry and of the 947,000 people working in this sector some 45% were immigrants, followed by 36% working in the textile industry and agriculture.

While these industries had the biggest share of immigrant workers, they weren’t the biggest overall employers of immigrants, since industries with a smaller share of immigrants may have more of them in absolute numbers.

The research also found that the occupational group with the highest share of immigrants was farming, fishing and forestry with 46% of the 1.2 million people in those occupations born abroad.

Some 35% of the 6.7 million people in building and grounds cleaning and maintenance occupations were immigrants, as were 27% of the 8.3 million people in construction and extraction occupations.

The research shows how the number of immigrants have risen. In 1995 they made up about 12% of the total civilian workforce which increased to 17% in 2014. The report says that immigrants and their US born children are projected to drive growth in the nation’s working age population for at least the next two decades.

It also shows that views on immigration’s impact on US born workers have shifted significantly over the past decade. Ten years ago Americans were almost evenly divided, with 42% saying the growing number of immigrants helps American workers and 45% saying it hurts US workers. Now 55% said having more immigrants hurts US workers, with just 28% saying it helped them.

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