Rise of the college educated foreign born workforce

This post summarizes a lot of demographic data on foreign-born persons and their educational attainment. The overall trend in most demographic data shows that our immigrant populations is gradually aligning with the U.S. born population in economic and social characteristics. Let’s see how that happens or doesn’t happen with regard to education among workers.

Prime working age (25-54) increasingly foreign-born. The U.S. born workforce declined 2005 – 2022 from 82.6 million to 81.1 million, while the foreign born workforce for these age group increased 28% from 16 million to 20.6 million.

The percentage of prime working age worker who are foreign born has increased in these years from 19% to 25%.

Major shifts in the distribution of education status. The large numbers of person with very low formal education, a phenomenon of the Latino surge in the 1980s – mid 2000, have been partly eclipsed by the (1) the rise in education in all parts of the world, and (2) the surge in the past 15 years of Asian immigrants, who are relatively well educated.

Low education is becoming rarer overall. Between 2005 and 2022, the number of U.S born persons with less than a high school degree declined by almost half, to 3.6 million, while the group among foreign born did not decline – but did not increase.  In 2005, 44% of this education population was foreign born; today it is 58%.  The poorest educated Americans over about 60% foreign born. In 2005, 15% of the total foreign population had less than a HS education; today it is closer to 10% — still higher than for total U.S. born persons, which is about 1% now.

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