Immigrants and the Economy

In this election year, immigration reform and the economy are seen as the hot-button topics which may decide voter’s opinions. However, these two topics may not be as separate as many believe. According to many experts, the economy and immigration reform are very closely linked.

Partnership for a New American Economy has recently published a report entitled “Not Coming to America: Why the U.S. is Falling Behind in the Global Race for Talent.” Not surprisingly, the report points out that US immigration policies are hurting the US economy by depriving the country of needed skilled workers. Many countries have flexible immigration policies designed to ensure that qualified workers can immigrate. Canada, for example, allows its provinces to admit immigrants based on filling shortages in specific labor areas. This way, if agricultural workers, nurses, or other workers are needed in a specific region, immigrants can be admitted to fill that need. Many experts have suggested that US immigration laws need to change to ensure that skilled workers and needed workers are allowed into the country to fill labor needs.

Many experts also point out that immigrants as a whole are a powerful force for the US economy. Immigrants pay taxes, work, patronize local businesses, and spend money. They contribute to their local economies and communities and in many cases they also build businesses. In fact, according to statistics, immigrants are more likely than native-born Americans to start their own businesses. In New York City alone, for example, 48% of small businesses are owned by immigrants. Other major cities in the US show a similar proportion of small businesses owned by immigrants.

Many experts believe that new immigration laws are needed in order to encourage immigration of skilled workers. Many industries – including IT and agriculture – already rely heavily on immigrant labor and getting more workers for these industries can help the economy. Many people worry that accepting more immigrants will harm job prospects for US workers, but studies show this may not be the case. According to research by the American Enterprise institute and the Partnership for a New American Economy, for every immigrant student who graduates and gets a job in the US in science, math, technology, or engineering fields, at least two more US jobs are created.

This is because immigrant workers fill needed gaps in the economy and also produce more jobs and more demand for jobs just by being in the US. New workers from outside the US may start their own businesses. However, they will also need to use services and buy goods in the US and they will need housing, transportation, and other services. Each of these activities will demand growing need for other businesses and industries.