How to respond to a 3% decline in workforce

The American workforce as shrunk in pandemic times by upwards of 5 million. This has speeded up the predicted decline in rate of workforce growth.  Prior to the pandemic it grew by about one million a year. Immigration typically accounted for about 500,000 a year, most recently less. The Biden immigration bill may increase immigrant workers to perhaps a million a year.

Starting in about 2015 and going forward, the net growth in the American workforce will largely be due to immigration, in part because of the aging on the U.S. born population. Without immigration, the total working age population would decline by 2035 by 4%. With immigration, it will increase by 6%.

Mathew Yglesias writes, The last two big debates about comprehensive immigration reform (in 2007 and 2013) were very weak times for the American labor market. But that’s not the situation today. In 2017-19, the Trump administration drastically reduced legal immigration. Immigration further tumbled for pandemic-related reasons and has only very partially recovered since Joe Biden took office. All told, David Bier calculates that we are 1.2 million immigrants short of our early-Trump pace, which was a reduction from the Obama pace, which itself was a reduction from the Bush pace.

The Biden immigration bill (U.S. Citizenship Act of 2021) the total number of green cards is forecast to increase by 28% from about 1,180,000 to 1,510,000. Family-related visas (immediate and relatives) are to remain basically flat, while employment-related visas are expected to grow by 285%.

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