“America thrives when it welcomes, integrates and capitalizes on the diverse skills and perspectives that immigrants bring to our shores.” – David J. Bier, The Cato Institute
For centuries, immigrants have been integral to the growth and vitality of the American economy. They have filled crucial roles in industries like agriculture, construction, and healthcare and founded companies like Google, Intel, and Tesla, often leading the charge in innovation and job creation.
Their contributions, however, extend far beyond the boardroom and construction site. Immigrants also contribute to government revenue and social programs, often with a net positive impact, and they have been known to revitalize communities by establishing businesses that create economic opportunities.
It’s no coincidence though that immigrants often gravitate towards industries where there is a need for workers – and currently, the United States has a high need for workers! As the labor market in the U.S. experiences a shortfall that domestic workers either can’t or won’t fill, immigrants can move to fill those jobs.
When immigrants enter the United States workforce, it actually benefits the economy and raises the GDP! Not only do immigrant incomes rise, but American incomes rise, too. The Bush Institute explains that this “immigration surplus” amounts to an additional $36-73 billion dollars flowing to Americans each year.
Even those who arrive in the U.S. under difficult humanitarian circumstances, such as Afghans and Ukrainians, prove also to be positive contributors to the economy!
“There is this idea that asylum seekers are just mouths to feed, but they are actually brains and hands and feet too,” explains Matt Soerens, VP of Advocacy & Policy for World Relief. “They have a lot to contribute because they are people made in the image of God.”
“The same is true for refugees who were resettled in the United States,” emphasizes Matt. “Sure there are costs up front. They have needs when they first arrive, but give them a few years and they are going to be contributing more than they are actually receiving.”
“That’s the story of America over a number of generations. People are not just mouths. They are not a deficit. They are actually an incredible asset. The irony is we are having this conversation at a time when we have literally millions more jobs in this economy than we have people looking for work. The problem is not that we have too many people, the problem is that we haven’t connected the dots to let people actually meet their own needs and meet the needs of the U.S. cyber market at the same time.”
Newly released data from the American Community Survey (the Census Bureau’s annual mini-census), reveals the immigrant share of the U.S. population rose just 0.3 percentage points between July 2021 and July 2022, reaching 13.9%. That means the U.S. immigrant population is still 2 million below the 2017 Census predictions. Add in the fact that the Census Bureau’s data shows we are also facing the lowest population growth in U.S. history, and we have a real cause for economic concern.
The bottom line: there is a massive worker shortage looming.
The solution according to David J. Bier, the Associate Director of Immigration Studies at the Cato Institute, is clear: “We need people. We need workers across all skill levels to drive our economy, support our aging population, and maintain our global competitive edge. Immigrants have historically played, and can continue to play, a crucial role in filling these gaps.”