Two stories highlight the U.S. economy’s need for more, not fewer, immigrant workers. The New York Times reports on shortages of workers in building trades and agriculture, while MinnPost highlights the growing need for more healthcare workers.
Immigrant workers fill growing needs across the economic spectrum, from high-tech workers in Silicon Valley to personal care attendants making it possible for elderly U.S. citizens to age in place in their own homes. According to the New York Times article, housing starts have more than doubled since 2009, but the number of workers has not kept pace. Immigrants are one-in four construction workers, and nearly half of those in plastering, roofing, and hanging drywall.
The labor shortage is not limited to construction:
“If the United States were to cut off the flow of new immigrants, Pew noted, its working population would shrink to 166 million in 2035 from 173 million in 2015.
“Immigration has been padding the labor force for years. Over the last two decades, immigrants and their children accounted for more than half the growth of the population of 25- to 64-year-olds, according to Pew’s analysis. Over the next 20 years, they will have to plug the hole left by the retirement of the baby boom generation.”
One-third of hotel and lodging workers, more than one-fifth of food service workers, one-fourth of home health aides and personal care aides, and seven in 10 agricultural workers are immigrants.
According to MinnPost, personal health care aides make up the fastest growing job category.
“In 2016, Minnesota had an estimated 68,000 people employed as personal care aides. By 2026, it’s expected to have more than 91,000, adding more jobs than any other specific industry.”
Many of those aides are immigrants, and there’s already a shortage of available workers.