What immigration adds to the labor force

A number of people have been estimating shortfall in our labor force due to the decline in immigration due to Trump and the pandemic from a prevailing level of about one million persons a year. The following passage (from here) estimates that the prevailing rate of 18 to 65 year old immigrants was about 660,000. At a labor force participation rate of 80% for this age cohort, that means that a half million persons were added to our workforce by immigrants every year. The passage below estimate a total shortfall due to immigration downturn of 2 million.

This is most acutely experienced in food and hospitality jobs, which today have an unfilled job rate of 13-15%, and in which 25% of the labor has been foreign born.

Trump and other Republicans sought to reduce immigration by about 40%. Call that a reduction in annual foreign-born labor force addition of say 200,000 from the 500,000 prevailing annual addition. Biden’s U.S. Citizenship Act of 2021 would in effect increase the labor force addition by roughly 200,000, to 700,000. The prevailing increase of the labor force by U.S. born persons is around zero.

The passage from Econofact is here:

This decline in immigrant and nonimmigrant visa arrivals resulted in zero growth in working-age foreign-born people in the United States. Prior to 2019, the foreign born population of working age (18 to 65) grew by about 660,000 people per year, as reported in data from the monthly Current Population survey (see the first chart). This trend came to a stop already in 2019 before the pandemic, due to a combination of stricter immigration enforcement and a drop in the inflow of Mexican immigrants. The halt to international travel in 2020 added a significant drop in the working-age immigrant population. As of the end of 2021, the number of working-age foreign-born people in the United States is still somewhat smaller than it was in early 2019. and, relative to the level it would have achieved if the 2010-2019 trend had continued, there is a shortfall of about 2 million people. A similar calculation done using Current Population Survey (CPS) monthly data on foreign-born individuals with a college degree indicates that of the missing two million foreign workers, about 950,000 would have been college educated, had the pre-2020 trend continued. This is a very substantial loss of skilled workers, equal to 1.8 percent of all college-educated individuals working in the US in 2019.

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