Planning migration into Ireland

Ireland is one of the brightest of the bright spots of economic growth in the world today. I have posted on the surge in population. Since the early 2000s more than 1.6 million people immigrated to Ireland over those 20 years, with net inward migration of around 520,000 people.

Canada and Australia have a purposeful policy of assessing and targeting immigration – which the United States distinctly does not.

Ireland has an employment permits system that allows foreign nationals from outside the European Economic Area to work in certain eligible occupations. This system does not use a points-based approach or hard quotas currently.

In December 2023, Ireland announced the largest expansion of its employment permits system, adding 43 new eligible occupations and increasing salary requirements. This suggests efforts to better match foreign labor to specific workforce needs.

The government is considering proposals for a “single application procedure” that would combine the employment permit and immigration permission processes. This could pave the way for a more comprehensive points-based immigration system in the future.

The government’s first Migrant Integration Strategy was published in 2017, covering the period to 2021, and was being updated as of this writing. MIPEX described the government as having developed “a more comprehensive approach to integration.”  It is not an immigration quota system (with for instance a points system) but rather an comprehensive approach to integration of immigrants.

Its key elements include: Integration is a core principle, with mainstream services adapted to meet migrant needs. Migrants participate in economic life through employment and self-employment.Migrants interact with the host community while preserving their traditions.Migrants acquire language skills and knowledge about Ireland.

Asylum: a white paper on the Direct Provision system for accommodating asylum seekers—which has been widely criticized for its poor living standards and for preventing individuals from integrating into Irish society—promised to end Direct Provision by 2024. To that end, a one-off regularization process was introduced for asylum applicants whose cases had been under review for longer than two years. More than 3,200 applications were received for this scheme; as of June 2023, nearly 1,600 people had been granted approval and a further 1,100 were separately granted another form of status.

Much of this information is from here.

Great study of present and future impact of immigration on US workforce.

“How Immigrants and Their U.S.-Born Children Fit into the Future U.S. Labor Market” – this study by the Migration Policy Institute examines the 47 million first and second persons who are part of the U.S. workforce. That’s 27% of the workforce. They include both foreign born persons and their adult children. These figures reveal the impact of immigrants on the American economy than the percentage of Americans who are foreign-born — 14%

First and second generation immigrants account for all of the work force growth between 2000 and 2023. This is due in part to the increase in these numbers, the higher participation rate of immigrant men in the workforce compared to other Americans, and rise of immigrant women in the  workforce.

First and second generation immigrants comprised 21% of young adults (18 -24) in 2000 and 30% in 2023. Among prime working age (25 to 54) persons in the US first and second generation immigrants comprised 19% in 2000 and 31% in 2023.

In 2023, first and second generation immigrants comprised 38% of all STEM and social science workers.

The job market is increasingly dependent on college educated workers. 41% of recent immigrants have at least a BA degree. Asian workers are best primed to meet the higher demand for formally well educated persons (go here).





Australia overhauling its points system

Canada is trimming its inflow of immigrants. Australia is not trimming so much as recalibrating its very skills -oriented immigration policy to match long term employment needs.

SBS News reports that testing for prospective migrants to Australia to obtain visas is set to undergo its first overhaul in more than a decade as part of a revamp of the country’s immigration system. The prospective strategy outlined ways for migrant numbers to return to pre-COVID-19 levels, as well as halve net overseas migration by 2025.  It would be the first overhaul of the immigration system since 2012.

A review of the points-based immigration system is in the works, by the Australian National University.

See this April 2024 discussion paper, which provides a good introduction to the points system.  The study will “better align” the points system to match the county’s needs for skilled workers. A strong suggestion is that the points system will be revised to favor younger persons, Two-thirds of permanent immigration is through the points system. The review will not affect humanitarian immigration.

An explanation of the recent economic phenomenon in the U.S.

This posting says that the surprising resiliency of the American economy in the post pandemic period is a result of greater capacity of households to spend and a larger than normal increase in the workforce due to immigration since 2020.

The pandemic caused piling up of household savings far in excess of normal financial balances.  In 2020 alone, savings increased 25% over normal rates, adding about $1.6 trillion dollars to the wallets of households.

In 2019, households spent $14 trillion in consumer spending and at year end had about $17 trillion in liquid financial assets. Thus, $1.6 trillion is a one-shot addition to household wealth was important.

This additional wealth came from two sources: (1) special federal outlays in 2020 and 2021 totaling about $800 billion, and (2) a reduction in household spending (travel, restaurants, etc) amounting for many households to a 5% reduction in normal spending (which maybe was $700 billion in foregone outlays).

At the same time this unexpected boost in liquid wealth happened, housing prices went up. Some 62% of Americans own their own homes.  And the stock market soared. The “wealth effect” is commonly thought to increase consumer spending by 3-5% of the increase in wealth.

And at the same time, immigration added about five million people to the American population, over the course of three years (2021-2023).  I’ve discussed this growth several times and will in the future, assessing evidence of its size and the effect on the workforce.  Normally, one would expect a growth of three million over three years. The additional two million translates into over one million additional workers.

Thus, the higher capacity for households to spend matched serendipitously the rise in the supply of workers. I suggest this matching has resulted in higher than normally expected economic growth.  Conventional economic models, in my view, cannot adequately address the one time surge in both wealth and the surge in the workforce.



How many came into the US under Biden? How many new workers?

I guess that at the end of April, 2024, there are around five million more foreign born persons in the U.S. than at the start of the Biden Administration. This includes the net of persons arriving and departing with a permanent visa or temporary work visa, a net change in the number of persons with a student visa, those admitted pending asylum or other adjudication, and the net of persons who snuck into the border or overstayed their non-visa (largely tourist) visit.

This is an order-of-magnitude guess.  Assuming five million, this implies that at there are least three million more foreign born workers in the U.S. than in 2020, working legally or illegally, or waiting for legal authorization before working.

The entire workforce (“labor force”) of the U.S. increased by six million between 2020 (161 million) and December 2023 (167 million). The Biden era rise in foreign- born may have contributed one half of that. Prior to Biden, foreign born workers accounted for about 18% of the workforce.

Given the high labor partition rate of foreign born vs U.S. born (say, 70% vs 60%) the role of foreign-born workers is all the more important.

The reality is that no agency or non-governmental organization is responsible for estimating the entire flow of persons in the U.S, in any given year.  For instance, landings from outside the country by planes in one of the 30 or so American airports bring in returning Americans, temporary and permanent visitors. Land crossings along the Canadian and Mexican border are hugely loaded with persons coming over to work for a day. Government figures do not break out the number of persons who cross regularly.

As for the border crisis of persons trying to enter outside formal ports of entry, Customs and Border Patrol does not succinctly break out repeaters – we know are many.


What we can say is this:

Legal “humanitarian parole” populations have gone up a lot in the Biden Administration (go here). So have persons here under Temporary Protected Status though this applies only to persons inside the U.S. when the visa was granted (go here).

Since the start of the Biden administration CBP has released 2.5 million with notices to appear in immigration court or report to Immigration and Customs Enforcement in the future, or other classifications such as parole.

How many have snuck without being caught? DHS uses a rule of thumb that 78% of illegal crossings are caught. This ratio is based on estimates made during years of much fewer encounters at the border. I think uses of figure of “gotaways” of 22% or 660,000 a year. Using this rule of thumb results in a figure o 1.6 million illegal and successful crossings.

for an exasperatingly complex analysis of border activity, go here.

Maine’s workforce and the role of immigrants

Nationwide, the annual increase in the prime working age population (25 – 54 years old) is very low, about 0.4% a year (go here and here).  Most of the increase will be foreign-born. Let’s look at Maine and what is it doing about its workforce by appealing to immigrants. It just set up an Office of New Americans.

.Maine’s current population of 1.32 million. The working age population is growing by about 3,000 year.

Maine has 56,000 foreign born individuals (go here). 10% of greater Portland and Lewiston-Auburn are immigrants. The percentage of immigrants who are working age is higher in Maine than for the total population. If it can attract slightly more immigrants than in the past, they might add 2,000 new foreign-born workers a year.’

That is why the state government is expanding English language education, increasing access to legal representation, expanding pathways to licensure and economic participation.

American service sector and its impact on the world — the role of immigrants

While our manufacturing base of workers in the country is influential around the world, some key service sectors have an outsized, even dominating, role in the world. And this would not take place without the presence of foreign-born workers. For these four subsectors of the service economy, each of which has a major impact on how the world perceives the United States, employment of foreign-born workers averages around 30-60%, while the share of foreign-born workers throughout the economy is 18% (which will rise due to working age demographic trends).

Their impact on the world includes not only the delivery of services globally from the U.S., but also the development of key service industries in countries, including emerging countries, of foreign-born workers who worked at some time in the U.S. A good example of this is how the Indian IT sector grew.

Computer sciences: The U.S. Census Bureau’s 2019 American Community Survey found that 63% of computer scientists and software engineers in the U.S. were foreign-born. In the fields of artificial intelligence (AI) and data science, over 60% of workers were foreign-born.

Healthcare research:  About 30% of medical researchers are foreign-born. These workers are employed in the pharmaceutical industry and in research centers.

Entertainment (Arts, entertainment, and recreation): According to a report by the Motion Picture Association of America in 2017, around 33% of the workforce in the broader U.S. motion picture and television industry were foreign-born.

Education: In the 2020-2021 academic year, around 50% of full-time graduate students in engineering programs in the U.S. were temporary student visa holders.   American Mathematical Society (AMS) found in 2015 that around 54% of doctoral faculty in mathematics departments at U.S. public universities were born outside the United States.

The role of immigrant workers in strategic industries

Conner O’Brien (@cojobrien) has studied the role of immigrant workers in strategic industries. He writes, “As we climb the educational ladder in strategic industries, we find immigrants are increasingly important. 36% of strategic industry workers with a graduate degree are foreign-born.  25% with only a college degree are foreign born, and 15% of those without college degree are foreign born.” Not surpisingly, foreign born workers in strategic industries earn on average more than do U.S-born workers ($106K vs. $91K).

Among foreign born workers in strategic industries with at least a BA, 29% are from India; 13% from China.

Over the past 20 years, all industries have become more dependent on graduate degree holders, but the dependency in strategic industries much more so. Strategic industries make heavy use of computer scientists and scientific researchers.

What are strategic industries? O’Brien’s study says, “We identify Census-defined industries as strategically significant if they intersect with Brookings Metro’s Advanced Industries definition, using the Census Bureau’s NAICS crosswalk. Brookings defines advanced industries as those that are both in the top fifth of industries by R&D spending per worker and are above average in their use of STEM workers. We then examine the workforces of these industries using 2018-2022 five-year American Community Survey (ACS) microdata.

The industries identified encompass nearly 20 million workers and range from software to shipbuilding. Strategic industries are disproportionately in manufacturing and professional services, which combine for 83 percent of employment. In non-strategic sectors, these two categories combined employ only nine percent of workers.”


Construction increasingly depends on immigrant workers

The deaths of six immigrant workers in the Francis Scott Key Bridge collapse in Baltimore on March 26 shines a light on the critical role of foreign-born labor in construction. Foreign-born labor may not be formally well educated but they increasingly provide the muscle for much of construction, repair and maintenance.  These are some of the highest paying jobs for workers without advanced formal skills and without English proficiency.

The latest American Community Survey data of 2022 show that 11.8 million workers, including self-employed and temporarily unemployed, comprised the construction workforce in 2022. Out of these, 8.9 million were native-born, and 2.9 million or 25% were foreign-born, the highest number of immigrant workers in construction ever recorded by the ACS. (Go here).

In New York and New Jersey, 37% of the construction workforce were foreign born, according to a 2020 report br the the National Association of Home Builders. Nationwide, the growth of the U.S. born construction workforce has lagged well behind that of the foreign-born workforce. (Go here).



The decline then rise of the unauthorized population

The Center for Migration Studies estimates that the size of the unauthorized population in the U.S, grew by about 6% between 2021 and 2022, to reach 10,940. This was the largest one year increase since the early 2000s when upwards million were added in some years.

After about 2008, the unauthorized population remained between stable and slightly declining. The pandemic years, according to the Center, reverse this trend. The 2022 remains slightly lower than the peak reached in about 2008, which was 11 – 11.5 million.

Unauthorized migration for Mexico has been declining for some years and is the major reason for the decline. Central American migration, on the other hand, has surged.  Over the past 25 years, the Mexican share of unauthorized persons has declined from about 2/3 to 40%. Still, about 10% of the Mexican working age population is in the United States.

The Center used the American Community Survey to estimate the size of the unauthorized population. this is understandably a process fraught with risks of mis-estimation.

Why do I use the term unauthorized instead of undocumented or illegal? Because I think is the most meaningful for the three options.

What is the cause of the surge? The Center does not speculate. I suspect it has to do with the demand and rising wages for workers in occupations often populated wih unauthorized persons. the financial crisis in the late 2000s killed off the rise in this population. It is plausible that the better fortunes of workers in the lower formally educated cohorts are driving the reversal.