Immigrants are an underappreciated force in the US economy: They help boost economic growth, even though many Americans think they steal jobs and sap economic vitality.
President Trump wants to reduce immigration to the United States, starting with his attempted ban on immigrants from 7 predominantly Muslim countries—Iraq, Iran, Syria, Yemen, Libya, Sudan and Somalia. That ban has been temporarily blocked, as courts debate whether it’s legal. But Trump says a revised immigration order is coming soon–and reduced immigration is one part of Trump’s agenda economists worry about. “We already see a fairly subdued outlook for the pace of measured potential growth,” Goldman Sachs said in a recent note to clients. “Immigration restrictions could reduce the economy’s ‘speed limit’ still further.”
New analysis by the Conference Board of actual immigrants from the 7 countries Trump is targeting helps explain why the US economy needs legal immigrants. During the last 10 years, about 230,000 people have entered the US legally from those countries. About 109,000 are in the US labor force. They represent two types of workers, in general—well-educated professionals, including many who came to the US on a student visa, and less-skilled workers who most likely came as refugees.
Overall, workers from the Targeted 7 hold more bachelor’s and advanced degrees than US workers as a whole, as this chart shows:
At the lower end of the skill ladder, immigrants from the Targeted 7 are overrepresented in industries such as retail and health care, holding jobs such as food preparation and personal care. Health care in particular is a fast-growing field where the United States seems certain to need more workers in the future, and might even face a labor shortage in some areas.
Immigration is more important to the US economy than it used to be, because the native-born US population is growing more slowly than it has in the past.
By Rick Newman for YAHOO FINANCE
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