Immigration Needed to Meet Demand for Highly Skilled Workforce

The New American Economy issued a recent report finding that despite the economic effects of the pandemic, the U.S. doesn’t have enough workers to fill high skilled positions.

In computer-related and math fields, the unemployment rate in 2019 was at 2.3%, and rose only slightly during 2020, to 3%.  But in 2021, that rate had dropped back down to 1.9%, indicating job growth in fields requiring these skills as the U.S. emerges from COVID-19.

Unemployment rates for health care professionals was only 2% by December 2020 and the pandemic expanded the need for healthcare workers, a trend expected to continue, given both the pandemic and the nation’s aging population.

The report concludes that

despite the economic disruption caused by the Covid-19 pandemic, high-skilled and specialized workers remain in high demand across the U.S. …..However, America’s increasingly protectionist immigration system dissuades employers from seeking much-needed labor, even when it cannot source talent domestically. Instead of allowing for easier recruitment and attraction of workers in fields that have chronic labor shortages, such as in technology and healthcare, or in geographic areas where demand for labor outstrips supply, U.S. immigration policy remains largely a one-size-fits-all system. Given that high-skilled workers tend to work in high-tech industries, which tend to be more productive and faster growing, not allowing employers to fill critical gaps in their workforces effectively keeps them from fulfilling their full economic potential for the rest of the U.S. economy. This suggests that more nuanced and responsive policy around employment-based immigration could be one way to help the U.S. more quickly and more robustly bounce back from the Covid-19 and future economic disruptions and crises.

You can find the full report here.