How much would higher recent immigrant alleviate the labor shortage today

About 80% of recent immigrants, possibly higher, are in the typical ages of the workforce (16 to 65).  This is higher than the population as a whole, about 70%. There has been a shortfall of about two million new immigrants 2019 – 2022. This suggests a shortfall of about 1.6 million working age persons. Let’s assume that 80% of these would be in employed, or about 1.3 million (the others in school, at home or otherwise not employed).

As if February 2023, there were 10 million job openings, and five million persons unemployed in the workforce – a ratio of 2, compared with a more normal ratio of 1 or lower. Had these 1.3 million recent immigrants been employed, the job openings would have been about nine million and the ratio between openings and unemployment would be about 1.75.


This, of course, assumes that the influx of working immigrants would reasonably match job openings in the short run.

Latinos a “demographic lifeline to rural America”

The Hispanic population increased from 1.6 million in 1992 to 4.1 million in 2019, an increase of 160%, in nonmetro America. The rapid growth of the nonmetro Latino population was 56% in the 1990s, 40% in the 2000, and 19% in the 2010s. The total non-metropolitan population   growth was far less:  5.4%, 5.5%, and 0.7% respectively. Between 1990 and 2019, 58% of net non-metropolitan area population growth was Hispanic; 3% Black; 7% white; and 32% non-Hispanic other (Asians, Native, multi-racial).

New, i.e. non-traditional, destinations of Hispanics include northeast Texas, the Carolinas, southeastern Pennsylvania, the Las Vegas area, and northwest Georgia.  When you look at these “new destinations,” the increases much more.  For new destinations, Hispanics were 3% of the population in 1990 and 16% in 2019. (In established destinations, such as southern and western Texas, New Mexico, Arizona, and California, the share of total population increased relatively modestly from 32% to 44%.

Within 200 non-metro counties, the total population would have declined except for Hispanic in-migration.

This population shift has led to some non-historical Hispanic states, such as North Carolina, Pennsylvania and Nevada, gaining a significant share of eligible voters being Hispanic. (go here,)

From here.


“boldest innovation in refugee resettlement in four decades”

I have posted on proposals by Republican governors for states to assume some of the role of managing immigration. I have posted on a Biden initiative use private sponsorships to fast track a special kind of temporary visa, humanitarian parole. Now I post on a significant innovation of private partnership in the entire refugee resettlement process.

The Center for Immigration Studies published an analysis of the administration’a initiative in private sponsorship of refugees.

On January 19, 2023 the Biden Administration announced the creation of the Welcome Corps, “boldest innovation in refugee resettlement in four decades.” The administration said the program is in part built upon the experience in resettling Afghan, Ukrainian, Venezuelan and other refugees since the start of the Biden administration.

A key party in the Welcome Corps is the Community Sponsorship Hub, a non-profit created in 2016 by foundation grants and the work of several organizations, including the International Rescue Committee, the Refugee Council USA, and the Lutheran Immigration and Refugee Service.

The Hub introduces itself as follows: “The Welcome Corps is a program launched by the U.S. Department of State, administered by a consortium led by the Community Sponsorship Hub with funding provided by the U.S. government. Through the Welcome Corps, everyday Americans come together to privately sponsor refugees, building on our country’s long tradition of providing refuge.”

The American Community Sponsorship Hub was modeled after earlier founded Hubs in other English speaking countries.

In Canada, the Community Sponsorship Hub model was first established in 1978 with the creation of the Private Sponsorship of Refugees (PSR) program.  In Australia, the Community Sponsorship Hub model was first established in 2013 by the Settlement Services International (SSI) organization. The program is now known as the Community Refugee Sponsorship Initiative. In the UK, the Community Sponsorship Hub was established in 2016.

The CIS says:

Under this new program, refugees will be selected for resettlement into the United States and then assisted during their first few months here by private individuals. These prerogatives were, until now, those of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) and nine religious or community-based organizations called “resettlement agencies”. UNHCR was entrusted with the selection and referral of refugees for resettlement into the United States, while resettlement agencies were funded by the Department of State to assist refugees upon arrival.

This will no longer exclusively be the case with the launching of the Welcome Corps. This doesn’t mean that refugees will stop being selected for resettlement by UNHCR and assisted upon arrival by resettlement agencies. The U.S. resettlement program is just expanding by allowing private individuals (backed by various humanitarian organizations) to take on the primary responsibility of selecting, welcoming, and providing initial support to refugees. It will not replace, but is complementary to, the traditional resettlement process led by UNHCR and resettlement agencies.

Half of “missing” immigrants are college educated

A study published in early 2022 on the shortfall of immigrants due to Trump policiies and the pandemic (i.e. 2019, 2020 and 2021) concludes that the shortfall was about two million persons and that almost 50% of those who would have migrated would likely to have been college educated. The researchers thus are saying that with normal levels of immigration, about half are college educated.  This is comparable to total Americans today who are 24 – 29 years old, 42% of whom have a college degree.

There are roughly 17 million persons in the workforce 40 or younger who are college educated. The missing one million new immigrants, the great majority of whom would be 40 or younger, are equivalent to about 5% of this youngish college educated workforce.  This is the result of immigration distruption for 3 years.

“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. 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 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.”


High growth in lowest wage categories and immigrant economics

Immigrants with low wages may have on balance benefited from the pandemic through workforce market disruption and consequent competitive bidding for workers. Here is the evidence, interesting tied to labor market disruption.  One needs to consider how this phenomenon may have encouraged more persons with low formal education to enter the U.S.

First, According to Bureau of Labor Statistics, in 2021, 19.1 percent of foreign-born labor force age 25 and over that had not completed high school. This is much higher than the figure for native-born labor force which is 3.5 percent. I think these workers dominate with lowest 10% of workers in wage, or simply stated “low wage” workers. The jobs filled by low wage immigrant workers will tend to be those for which English proficiency and tacit knowledge of American consumer culture are not needed.  Unauthorized workers are further restricted by verification policies practiced seriously by many public and some private employers.

The effect on the COVID pandemic on these low wage workers were two fold. First, there were massive layoffs in key industries where they work: According to Bureau of Labor Statistics, the lowest 10 percent of workers by wage work: food preparation and serving related, personal care and service, building and grounds cleaning and maintenance. (Farm employment did not appear to be adversely affected.)

Second, the workers when they went back to work had higher wage gains than workers at higher income categories.

According to the Economic Policy Institute, Between 2019 and 2022, The lowest 10th-percentile real hourly wage grew 9.0% over the three-year period, compared to 2.4% among middle-wage workers and 4.9% among (top) 90% percentile workers.

Why did this happen – both the high wage growth AND the relatively high growth?

Why did this happen? According to the EPI, “The sudden loss of millions of low-wage jobs at the start of the pandemic significantly reduced the frictions that tie workers to particular jobs—that is, the barriers that in normal times keep workers from searching for better employment opportunities. These barriers include, for example, the lack of time or other resources to engage in a job search or a lack of awareness of better opportunities. In the pandemic recovery, this phenomenon opened up opportunities and led to increases in hires and quits (“churn”) in the low-wage labor market. This increased churn—on top of a tightening labor market and the need to incentivize workers to take “front-line” jobs with pandemic exposure—increased low-wage workers’ leverage, which led to faster wage growth.”

According to David Autor and colleagues, “Labor market tightness, following the height of the COVID-19 pandemic led to an unexpected compression in the US wage distribution that reflects, in part, an increase in labor market competition. Rapid relative wage growth at the bottom of the distribution reduced to college wage premium. Wedge compression was accompanied by rapid nominal wage growth and rising job to job separations, especially among young non-college-age high school, or less workers.”

SNAFUs in Humanitarian Parole for Afghans

Here is a damning portrait of incompetence in the USCIS regarding help to Afghans fleeing to the U.S.  This posting, quoting the report, dives into more detail of immigration operations than usual. The author is the American Immigration Council. Title: “Agency Failures Make Obtaining Humanitarian Parole Almost Impossible for Afghans.”


USCIS records show how the agency’s response to the high volume of humanitarian parole applications contributed to the massive delays faced by Afghans.

In July 2021, the Biden administration announced that the United States’ military mission in Afghanistan would conclude in August of that year. During those final days of U.S. military presence, the Taliban rapidly gained control of Afghanistan, killing civilians in their path and prompting many Afghans to flee their homes for safety. As the U.S. military departed the country, many Afghans who were left behind in danger—as well as their families and friends in the United States—turned to the Department of Homeland Security’s (DHS) humanitarian parole process for safe passage. For Afghan nationals who managed to reach U.S. ports of entry during this period, U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) allowed them to enter by granting them parole at ports of entry, known as port parole. Thousands of others who could not reach the United States at that time were forced to apply for humanitarian parole through the traditional way of submitting an application with U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS).

However, Afghan nationals began to see massive delays in the adjudication of their humanitarian parole applications. Government statistics show that from January 1, 2020 to April 6, 2022, USCIS—the agency in charge of adjudicating humanitarian parole applications—received 44,785 applications where the applicant’s country of citizenship was Afghanistan, and only approved 114 of those applications, or less than 0.3%. This bottleneck of applications essentially foreclosed this benefit as a potential option for those Afghans who could not reach the United States, many of whom remained in Afghanistan.

Government statistics covering a slightly different time period tell the same story. From January 1, 2020, to April 6, 2022, USCIS received 44,785 applications where the applicant’s country of citizenship was Afghanistan, and only approved 114 of those applications.

Notably, government figures show that between March 1, 2021, and March 22, 2022, USCIS received over $19 million from humanitarian parole applications filed on behalf of Afghan nationals.

These figures show that it was extremely difficult for Afghan applicants who directly requested humanitarian parole through the I-131 process to have their cases adjudicated even though the agency collected extensive fees from these applications. Applicants’ best chances for being approved for humanitarian parole were when a U.S. agency requested the parole, an avenue that was available to only a handful of Afghans.

The developments in the humanitarian parole process revealed through government records highlight the insurmountable odds faced by Afghan nationals trying to reach the United States. It is evident from the available documents that USCIS was not prepared to adjudicate the high volume of humanitarian parole applications from Afghans who did not make it on those early flights to the United States. The shifts in adjudication protocols with no notice to the public, including USCIS’ de-prioritization of processing applications from individuals who remained in Afghanistan and the temporary hold placed on adjudications in light of the high volume of applications received, undoubtedly contributed to the delays in adjudications. These circumstances, and not just the volume of applications, are the reason why humanitarian parole has failed to provide a feasible avenue for relief to vulnerable Afghans who have not been able to reach the United States.

Wage differentials between US and emerging countries

Indian software developers

The median annual salary for a software developer in the United States is around $77,000. The median annual salary for a software developer in India is around $11,000. The World Bank’s PPP conversion factor for India in 2021 was 23.8. Adjusting for this, the Indian worker’s annual salary is around $29,000 in terms of purchasing power in the United States, 37% of the American worker’s.

Nigerian nurses

A starting nurse in Nigeria makes, in PPP, about $4,000 a year. A starting registered nurse in the U.S. makes about $60,000. The Nigerian nurse makes 6% of the American nurse in terms of purchasing power.


DeSantis’ hostile environment for unauthorized persons

On February 23, Florida Governor DeSantis filed legislation which amounts to a mass crackdown on unauthorized persons in Florida. (Here is the state’s press release). The New York Times reports that the bill is approaching a vote.

Following other states, e-Verify

DeSantis is attempting to introduce what the Conservative Party in the United Kingdom explicitly calls a “hostile environment.”  Let’s look at the matter of employment.

According to the American Immigration Council (August, 2020), 775,000 undocumented immigrants comprised 18 percent of the immigrant population and 4 percent of the total state population in Florida in 2016. This figure understates the importance of the unauthorized population, as many live with U.S. citizens or permanent legal residents.

The state’s total workforce is about 10 million.  My guess is that 500,000 of them are unauthorized, and that some live with or partners of 100,000 legal workers. Thus, directly or indirectly about 6% of the workforce will be adversely affected be DeSantis’ crackdown.

With regard to employment, the Florida bill basically seeks to match Arizona’s 2007 Legal Arizona Workers Act (LAWA). The most direct impact of this law for the workforce as to require all employers to use e-Verify, though the hostile environment created by the entire law likely had an impact on employment.  Arizona was the first (2007) of eight states (including Alabama, Arizona, Georgia, Mississippi, North Carolina, South Carolina, Tennessee and Utah) that require all employers to use e-Verify.

Research centers in most of these states have studied the impact of the requirement on the size of the unauthorized workforce, the impact on the legal workforce, usually showing minor impacts. This is a hard topic to research because many unauthorized workers are independent contractors (grounds work, cleaning, construction laborers, personal aides) and thus not subject to e-Verify, which applies only to employees.

Perhaps the most specific numbers in impact are for Arizona, for which researchers in 2011 concluded as follows:

A study done in 2011 of the impact of the Arizona law concluded as follows: “Arizona achieved the intended goal of reducing the number of unauthorized immigrants. The population of non-citizen Hispanic immigrants—a high proportion of whom are unauthorized immigrants—in Arizona fell by roughly 92,000 persons, or approximately 17 percent, [because of the law] over 2008–2009. However, there was a shift to self-employment. Wage and salary employment of Hispanic non-citizens dropped by approximately 56,000 while non-citizen Hispanic self-employment increased by about 25,000. We found no strong evidence that LAWA, as of yet, either harms or benefits competing authorized workers.”

The current labor market in Florida

Florida’s unemployment rate today is  2.6%

There are many open positions in construction and the hospitality industries.



Biden’s new proposed rule on asylum applications

There is a 1.6 million case backlog in asylum application cases at this point. (Go here.)  Trump, then Biden, have tried to increase capacity to hear the cases and to stop the flow coming from Mexico. This posting is about Biden’s most recent effort to reduce the flow, to the extent that critics call a proposed rule an “asylum ban.”

On February 23, 2023, The Biden administration proposed a new rule that would make it more difficult for migrants to claim asylum in the United States. Under the proposed rule, immigrants who try to enter the U.S. between ports of entry without first seeking asylum or other immigration protections in another country are presumed ineligible for asylum in the U.S., barring some exceptions. The new rule gives asylum officers more authority by allowing them to hear and decide asylum claims – cases that are usually assigned to immigration judges – when migrants present at the border.

Proponents of the rule argue that it will help reduce the number of fraudulent asylum claims and help alleviate pressure on the immigration system. Opponents of the rule argue that it will make it much more difficult for legitimate asylum seekers to gain protection in the United States. Human Rights First calls in an asylum ban.

How many migrants will be affected?  The number of persons who entered the U.S. between formal ports of entry and were apprehended are not readily reported by Customs and Border Patrol; of these, only a share are asking for asylum.  Given that there are about 1.5 million apprehensions annually (an unduplicated count estimate) it would appear that at least several hundred thousands may be entering this way.

In the language of the proposed rule, “A Proposed Rule by the Homeland Security Department and the Executive Office for Immigration Review on 02/23/2023:”

The Department of Homeland Security (“DHS”) and the Department of Justice (“DOJ”) are issuing a notice of proposed rulemaking (“NPRM” or “proposed rule”) in anticipation of a potential surge of migration at the southwest border (“SWB”) of the United States following the eventual termination of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s (“CDC”) public health Order.

The proposed rule would encourage migrants to avail themselves of lawful, safe, and orderly pathways into the United States, or otherwise to seek asylum or other protection in countries through which they travel, thereby reducing reliance on human smuggling networks that exploit migrants for financial gain. It would do so by introducing a rebuttable presumption of asylum ineligibility for certain noncitizens who neither avail themselves of a lawful, safe, and orderly pathway to the United States nor seek asylum or other protection in a country through which they travel. In the absence of such a measure, which would be implemented on a temporary basis, the number of migrants expected to travel without authorization to the United States is expected to increase significantly, to a level that risks undermining the Departments’ continued ability to safely, effectively, and humanely enforce and administer U.S. immigration law, including the asylum system, in the face of exceptionally challenging circumstances.

Coupled with an expansion of lawful, safe, and orderly pathways into the United States, the Departments expect the proposed rule to lead to a reduction in the numbers of migrants who seek to cross the SWB without authorization to enter, thereby reducing the reliance by migrants on dangerous human smuggling networks, protecting against extreme overcrowding in border facilities, and helping to ensure that the processing of migrants seeking protection in the United States is done in an effective, humane, and efficient manner.

The Migration Policy Institute’s information resources

The Migration Policy Institute has released updates to its useful information resources on immigration in the United States.

Frequently requested statistics on immigrants and immigration in the U.S. updated to March 14 2023

(You can also go to Pew Research’s key statistics, dated 2020.)

State immigration profiles.

In its announcement of these updated data sources, the MPI included four specific items of information:

Immigrants were 13.6% of the total U.S. population in 2021, the most recent available year. In 2000 the share was 11.1%. The share has been flat for several years due to Trump policies and the pandemic. However, the immigrant population is expected by the Census Bureau to grow at a faster rate than the U.S. born population.

Mexican immigrants in the United States declined by more than 1 million between 2010 and 2021.  In 2013 number of new Asian-born persons who immigrated to the U.S exceeded the number of Latin American-born persons who immigrated.

Immigrants’ median household incomes in 2021 ($69,622) were almost identical to those of the native born ($69,734). This figure is somewhat misleading because immigrants form an hour class profile in economic status: relative to the U.S. born population a high share with little formal education and a high share of those with advanced formal education.

About 26% of the 69.7 million children under age 18 in the United States lived with a least one immigrant parent as of 2021, up from 19% in 2000 and 13% in 1990. I have posted that immigrants have become a birthing factory because they are likely to arrive in the U.S. during prime child bearing years in their lives.