More low-income immigrant workers will lower nursing home admission rates

Private nursing home care costs about $100,000 a year. 

The National Domestic Workers Alliance estimated in 2015 that among domestic workers, 46% were foreign born: 46%, and of these 47% were unauthorized.

45% of persons over 80 experience some kind of physical or mental impairment which can (or must) be mitigated by personal care, either at home or in an institution. For those 65 or older there is a 5% probability of institutional care and for those 80 or older a 15% probability

Researchers estimate that a 10% increase in the less-educated foreign-born labor force share in a local area reduces the risk of institutionalization among the elderly by 26-29%.

From here: Immigrant Labor and the Institutionalization of the U.S.-born Elderly, by Kristin F. Butcher, Kelsey Moran & Tara Watson

Proposed new pathways for non-farm Latin American workers

Mexico, Central America and the U.S. share a transnational labor market for low-skilled workers, but there has never been a comprehensive U.S. policy about managing this labor market. One approach is to introduce large numbers of multi-year visas.

The Migration Policy Institute recommends a long- term solution for temporary non-farm low skilled immigrant workers in the U.S., by revising the H-2B visa program, which is for non-farm labor, and has a cap of only 66,000 visas. Farm labor is covered by H-2A. (Here and here are analyses of H-2B):

The United States and its regional partners have short, medium, and long-term opportunities to leverage the US employment-based immigration system to assist in managing migration from Central America.

Legislatures could create a 1 to 3 year year-round temporary visa for the central Americans to work in specific industries. Lawmakers can also create a broader 1 to 3 year temporary visa for agricultural and non-agricultural workers that could create additional openings for prospective migrants.

The US can create pathways for temporary workers to access permanent residency. Individuals with H1B high skilled temporary visas they have the opportunity to receive sponsorship for a green card but this option does not exist for individuals on H-2B visas. Creating a new temporary to permanent visa or a pathway to green card for individuals with H-2B visas would empower workers to access more jobs.

A third option would be for the US to amend immigration law to allow workers on temporary visas to switch employers after a specific period of time, allowing workers to leave problematic employment relationships without jeopardizing the legal state.

Here is an analysis of the farm worker provisions in proposed 2021 legislation, which has the backing of the farm industry,

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%.

Immigrants are over a third of meat processing workers

Foreign born workers comprise 37% of meat processing workers. That compares to 17% of all workers being foreign-born. Generally speaking, it appears that white Americans are under-represented in meat processing by about 2/3rds and foreign born are over-represented by double.

The bulk of foreign-born meat processing workers are from Mexico (46%) and other Latin American countries (about 20%). Other regions well represented are Asian 12% (Burma, China and Vietnam) and Africa (9%).

Poultry processing is concentrated in the South (largest numbers in Georgia and Arkansas) while processing of other meat is concentrated in the Plains states (largest s in Nebraska and Iowa).

Also here and  here.

Economic migrants and the Mexican – U.S. border

The George W. Bush Presidential Center issued a report “A Smart Border Policy for the 21st Century” in February 2021. It is too multi-faceted to report on here in full, so I will take on slice of it – the pressure of economic migration at the Mexican – U.S. border. The report says that economic migrant use the asylum system to get into the U.S. It says:

We know that robust border security must be accompanied by a robust legal immigration policy. Whether through temporary work visas or additional green cards, legal migration pathways reduce pressure on the border and head off the development of grey-zone communities where other types of crime can take root. Expanding the reach of the H-2A visa (temporary agricultural work) and H-2B visa (temporary nonagricultural work) to the Northern Triangle is a win-win.

American employers will be able to find workers to fill their open positions, and foreign workers can legally work in the United States without having to uproot their entire families. Congress can also adopt new legislation to create additional legal migration options such as a program that would allow some temporary workers without bachelor’s degrees to transition to green cards after working for the same employer for a given number of years.

Expanding legal channels will not completely eliminate the phenomenon of economic migrants attempting to gain entry to the United States through the asylum system, but it will reduce the pressure on the U.S. asylum system at the border and the in-region processing of these migrants, giving space to legitimate asylum claims. These strategies will channel such individuals into the U.S. job market, where they can legally contribute to the American economy.

One million people have left the United Kingdom

I have posted here that, largely thanks the European Union, EU workers 8% once made up 8% of the British workforce of 35 million. That’s changed. Here from the Guardian:

In the past 20 years, the number of jobs in the United Kingdom grew six millions. That changed in 2020. With Covid-19 pushing the number of deaths to the highest in a century, and birthrates falling, it seems likely that more people died than were born for the first time since 1976. And there was a dramatic exodus of foreign-born residents from the UK. At the end of 2020 Britain had almost a million fewer non-UK-born residents than a year earlier. This would represent by far the largest annual fall in the resident population since the second world war, with London especially hard hit.

We don’t depend on immigration just for agricultural workers and coffee shops, but also for tech startups, creative industries, and universities – the most dynamic sectors of the UK economy. Overall, migration has created jobs, boosted innovation and productivity – and made us all richer. As has been brought home by the pandemic, our public services – and other sectors we’ve come to realise are “essential” – are often staffed by immigrants.

Storm Lake, the fastest growing city in Iowa

From the Storm Lake Times: The U.S. Census Bureau reported that Storm Lake’s population was 11,300 in 2020, a 6.3% increase from 10 years prior.

Iowa State University Sociologist Dave Peters told The Times the city’s distinction as the state’s most diverse community is the reason why it posted more growth than the state’s 13 cities of similar size and geographic location. An analysis he completed found Buena Vista County would have shrunk by 12% if it were not for non-white population growth.

The chief underlying cause of the upward pressure is Tyson Foods’ expansions to its Storm Lake facilities. The company, which has added over $100 million collective value to its Storm Lake plants since 2010, now employs around 3,200 people at wages ranging from $17 to $22 per hour.

(Thanks to the National Immigration Forum, here and here.)

From an editorial in the Storm Lake Times:

Immigration has been the story of Iowa since the mid-19th century. The Danes came to Newell, the Swedes to Albert City, the Germans to Hanover, the Irish to Sulphur Springs. Now Latinos, Asians and Africans are writing a new chapter of growth by launching their own enterprises and improving their own lot through education.

That model can be repeated throughout Iowa. There will be jobs in a new energy economy in towns that have actively resisted immigration. Someone will have to fill them. There will be new food processing jobs in southern Iowa as cattle move north, and Latinos will fill them. Iowa’s future, like its past, is bound up in the endless cycle of immigration. Storm Lake is attempting to make the most of it, and so are the little towns around. It’s a tremendous tale of success that Iowa should study.

Worker gaps growing in upper and middle income countries.

Evidence of labor supply, or worker gap in a country includes (1) an absolute decline in working age population and (2) an increase in the aged population compared to the working age population. A labor supply gap in a country can be solved by either automation and/or immigration.

From the Center for Global Development: 

For the period 2015 to 2050, prime working-age populations of OECD (
Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development) countries will shrink by more than 92 million people while there will be nearly 1.4 billion new working-age people in developing countries.

In high income countries, the population aged 20-64 will be 46 million smaller in 2050 than 2020. In upper-middle income countries there will be 85 million fewer potential workers.

The “dependency” ratio for a country is the number of young and old people not usually in the labor force compared to the working age population (say, 20 through 64 years). 2020-2050 will see rapidly rising dependency ratios in those countries driven by aging. The number of people aged 65 or older expressed as a percentage of the population aged 20 to 64 will climb from 31 percent to 50 percent in high-income countries between 2020 and 2050, and from 17 percent to 40 percent in upper-middle income economies

The ‘worker gap’ adds up to 202 million people in high income countries and 465 million in upper-middle income countries. China alone will see a worker gap of 384 million connected with a working age population that will shrink by 160 million between 2020 and 2050 as the population of retirement-age workers expands.

The rise and decline of unauthorized migrant farm workers

Here are two graphs which clearly show that the 2000s were the high point of unauthorized crop workers in the United States, after a tremendous surge which matches the rise and then slight decline of unauthorized persons in the country. the crop worker population became more settled (less migratory) and less unauthorized. I’ve noted this before as part of a larger context, which the gradual normalization of immigrants into the U.S. born population.

First, let’s look at the growth of the total unauthorized population. See how it rose a lot, then stopped growing.
Now let’s compare for four years between 1990 and 2018 the % of crop workers which were unauthorized (left); the percentage of crop workers who were migratory (center); and the percentage of crop workers who were citizens or green card holders  (right).It becomes clear that the sharp rise then decline in unauthorized crop worker population is closely associated with migratory work. Since then, legal workers have increased.

From here.

Shortage of truck drivers and the supply chain crisis: more workers from abroad?

Foreign born drivers are 18- 20% of all drivers, and closer to 50% in California, where the supply chain for imported goods is choked up. The Bureau of Labor Statistics asks if the truck driver labor market is broken. The Financial Times reported in September how the trucking industry is lobbying for higher temporary worker quotas for truck drivers.  The UK, having driven out foreign drivers due to Brexit, is now issuing more visas, in part in response to panic over shortage of fuel at gas stations.