Immigration ‘Most Important Component’ in Growth of Eligible Workers: Study

Hundreds of protesters demonstrate in northwest D.C. between the White House and Capitol against President Trump's Muslim immigration ban on Jan. 29, 2017. (Mark Mahoney/The Washington Informer)
Hundreds of protesters demonstrate in northwest D.C. between the White House and Capitol against President Trump's Muslim immigration ban on Jan. 29, 2017. (Mark Mahoney/The Washington Informer)

Immigration will play a significant role in the growth of the United States workforce, a Pew Research Center report reveals.

According to the study, which was released Wednesday, working-age adults whose parents were both born in the U.S. make up the largest share of this demographic. However, this number is expected to decrease from 128.3 million in 2015 to 120.1 million in 2035.

In contrast, the number of working-age adults born in the U.S. to immigrant parents will more than double during this time period — from 11.1 million to 24.6 million.

And the arrival of new immigrants will be what the authors call “perhaps the most important component of the growth in the working-age population over the next two decades.” In 2015 there were 33.9 million working-age immigrants in the U.S., and in 2035 there will be 38.5 million — “with new immigrant arrivals accounting for all of that gain,” the researchers add.

Immigration ‘Most Important Component’ in Growth of Eligible Workers: Study

The study predicts that the total U.S. workforce population will grow from 173.2 million in 2015 to 183.2 million in 2035. The 10 million growth rate is the lowest since the 1960s, the authors note. The study predicts an average of 0.3 percent growth between the two decades. In contrast, every decade since 1965 has seen at least 0.8 percent growth.

“Without these new [immigrant] arrivals, the number of immigrants of working age would decline by 17.6 million by 2035, as would the total projected U.S. working-age population, which would fall to 165.6 million,” researchers say. The study does not differentiate between documented and undocumented immigrants.

In February the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) reported the labor force participation rate was 62.7 percent. The rate has not been over 66 percent since June 2009. Immigrants will play a crucial role in filling jobs to account for the labor shortage, which the BLS predicts will continue:

“The labor force continues to age. The median age of the labor force was 37.7 in     1994, 40.3 in 2004, 41.9 in 2014, and is projected to be 42.4 in 2024. At the same time, the overall labor force participation rate is projected to decrease from 62.9 percent in 2014 to 60.9 percent in 2024.”

One reason for the shortage is that baby boomers are retiring and exiting the workforce faster than the younger generations can replace them. And young adults are predicted to represent even less of the workforce in 2024 than they do now, according to BLS:

“The labor force participation rate for youth (ages 16 to 24) is projected to decrease from 55.0 percent in 2014 to 49.7 percent in 2024. The youth age group is projected to make up 11.3 percent of the civilian labor force in 2024 as compared with 13.7 percent in 2014.”

Like Pew, BLS also predicted an increase in diversity over the next decade.

“Labor force diversity is projected to increase, with white non-Hispanics making up 59.6 percent of the civilian labor force in 2024, compared with 64.6 percent in 2014,” the report notes.

The Pew findings correspond with those of previous research indicating that immigration will have a tremendous impact on population growth in years to come. According to Pew, “Between 2015 and 2065, [immigrants and their descendants] are projected to account for 88% of the U.S. population increase, or 103 million people, as the nation grows to 441 million.”

Immigrants have long had a reputation of being hard workers and playing an important role in the workforce. Last month, immigrants and their supporters participated in “A Day Without Immigrants” to demonstrate their impact. The goal was to prove that immigrants are a vital component of businesses in the United States.

As summed up by Janet Murguia, president of the National Council of La Raza, “Businesses cannot function without immigrant workers today.”

While entire cities did not shut down and business operations did not halt completely, business owners and patrons alike could see a significant difference.

The future of immigrants remains uncertain under President Donald Trump’s hard-line stance on the issue. This week, Homeland Security Secretary John Kelly announced that there was a 40 percent decrease in undocumented immigrants entering the U.S. in January and February. According to Kelly, there is normally a 10 percent to 20 percent increase around this time.

“Since the administration’s implementation of Executive Orders to enforce immigration laws, apprehensions and inadmissible activity is trending toward the lowest monthly total in at least the last five years,” Kelly said.

Earlier this week Trump signed his revised travel ban. The countries impacted by Trump’s original order were Iran, Libya, Somalia, Sudan, Syria, Yemen and Iraq. Iraq is not included in the new order. The new order also no longer permanently bans Syrian refugees, but it still includes a 120-day suspension for refugees. It does not contain language that would have given Christian refugees priority. Additionally, the order states that no more than 50,000 refugees will be granted entry to the United States in fiscal year 2017. The newest executive order will go into effect on March 16.

Bob Ferguson, Washington’s attorney general, sued against Trump’s original ban and halted its implementation. Yesterday Ferguson asked a judge to confirm that this ruling applies to the new ban as well.

Meanwhile, Hawaii has asked a federal judge that the ban not be implemented. This case will be heard on March 15.