The National Association of Business Economics (NABE) surveyed 285 economists at America’s big companies like Wells Fargo (WFC), AT&T (T, Tech30) and FedEx (FDX) shortly after Trump took office.
The economists were asked what they thought of Trump’s policies. The response was clear: They disagree with Trump on immigration, NAFTA and how to handle the debt.
Unlike Trump, these business experts favor “relaxed immigration policies” to boost the economy.
Nearly half (49%) support an increase in U.S. immigration. Another 27% don’t think Trump should make any changes to immigration policy. In other words, 216 leading business economists don’t think the U.S. needs to crack down on the number of people coming into America.
“Panelists especially favor expanding the H-1B visa program for high-skill workers,” says Richard DeKaser, corporate economist at Wells Fargo and NABE survey chair. Businesses continue to complain that they cannot find enough skilled workers.
Why economists favor more immigration
Last week, Trump proposed the idea of a merit-based immigration system similar to Canada and Australia’s where people with more degrees and specialized skills would get priority to get into the U.S. The NABE survey didn’t ask specifically about that kind of a system, but the general view of business economists is that fixing the H-1B visa should be the priority of Congress and the White House, not going after illegal immigrants already in the U.S.
Only 5% of the economists surveyed believe the U.S. should spend more to deport illegal immigrants.
The Trump administration is currently trying to hire 15,000 additional immigration and border control agents. U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) officials have arrested hundreds of illegal immigrants since Trump took office.
Countries prosper when they a) have more workers and b) have more productive workers. The U.S. fertility rate just hit the lowest level on record in 2016, meaning U.S. population growth is slowing.
By Heather Long for CNN Money
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