Archive for the ‘Economics’ Category

Countries trying to manage their emigrants

Saturday, September 19th, 2020

Southeastern Europe has been experiencing a gradual, sustained decline in population in part due to emigration.

Bulgaria has a population of 7 million. There are 700,000 Bulgarians living in Turkey and 300,000 living in Germany. In total, the number living outside the county equal one fifth of those living in the country. By 2050, Bulgaria will lose one quarter of its population due to low birth rates and emigration. Remittances from outside the country into Bulgaria rose for $60 million in 2000 to $467 million in 2019, account for over 3% of the country’s GDP in 2019.

Albania has for many years had many of its citizens live outside the country. Remittances to Albania in 2019 was 9.4% of the country’s GDP. The number of Albanians living outside the country equal 40% of persons living inside Albania.

The Migration Policy Institute says that some countries have been trying to expand their outreach to their emigrating populations, beyond cultural programs, but few economic programs are in place. This contrasts with the Philippines, which has long supported their citizens who work outside the country.

Portugal is possibly the most active European country to promote the return of emigrants and immigration of non-nationals. The Portuguese emigrant population equals 25% of the population of the country.


The Indian community in Middlesex County NJ

Friday, August 28th, 2020

Middlesex County, just west of New York City, is an example of a local area where immigration has surged, especially South Asian, with employment gains in many sectors. It compares with Cupertino, CA, a center of Asian immigrants in California. Rutgers University and bio-medical employers dominant the economy.

Between 2013 and 2018, the immigrant population in the county increased by 8.6%, while the overall population increased by 0.1%.

It is the largest and most diverse South Asian cultural hub in the United States (Wikipedia). Monroe Township celebrates Diwali as a Hindu holiday. Carteret Borough’s Punjabi Sikh community, is the largest concentration of Sikhs in New Jersey. The County prints election ballots  in English, Spanish, Gujarati, Hindi, and Punjabi.

While representing 34.5% of the total population (most from Asia), immigrants represented an outsize share of workers in industries such as professional services (54%), wholesale trade (52%), transportation (51%) and manufacturing (50%).

Go here.

The rise of the Indian immigrant elite in the United States

Thursday, August 20th, 2020


Kamala Harris’ vice president candidacy shines a spotlight on the Indian immigrant population, which grew from virtually nothing in 1980 to 2.4 million as of 2015. 45% are naturalized citizens. Harris’ mother, who started graduate school at Berkeley when she was 19, in about 1957, was a very early Indian educated immigrant. (Atul Gawande’s physician parents immigrated in the early 19609s.)

In 2015, 77% of Indian adult immigrants had a bachelor’s degree or higher, compared to 29% of all immigrants and 31% of native-born adults. Among college-educated Indian immigrants, more than half had an advanced degree.

Indian immigrants have a much higher economic status than other immigrants and the average native-born person. Households headed by Indian immigrants had a median income of $107,000, compared to $51,000 and $56,000 for overall immigrant and native-born households, respectively.

As for type of employment, 73% were employed in management, business, science and arts, compared with 31% of all immigrants and 38% of native-born workers.

The Silicon Valley Elite. Indian entrepreneurs in Silicon Valley not only build ventures in the United States, but they are also wired into a huge global network of entrepreneurs. 

Indian venture capitalists from around the world were behind the founding of The Indus Entrepreneurs in 1992 It worldwide board is composed of Indians. Some 10,000 members are scattered through 62 countries. It describes itself as follows: TiE connects the entire entrepreneurship ecosystem from early stage entrepreneurs, serial entrepreneurs, professionals at leading corporations, venture capital, angel investors, thought leaders among others.

Some of the Indians who have co-led high tech ventures in the United States are graduates one of the six Indian Institutes of Technology, created in the 1940s. These graduates often invest in ventures founded by other graduates of these universities.

Black domestic workers and COVID

Wednesday, August 12th, 2020

The Institute for Policy Studies’ Black Worker Initiative conducted a survey on May 19-June 6, 2020 of 800 Black immigrant domestic workers in Massachusetts, Miami-Dade County and New York City. on the impact of COVID-19 on Black domestic workers. The study does not define country of origin so I guess it means immigrants from Africa and the Caribbean. Most worked in childcare or home cleaning. The percentage undocumented were MA 7% , Miami-Dade 45% and New York City 48%.

Job Loss. 70% either lost their jobs (45%) or received reduced hours and pay (25%).  Undocumented workers were nearly twice as likely as documented workers to be terminated (64% vs 35%). 67% of undocumented workers reported that their immigration status had a negative impact on their ability to find new work.

Housing Insecurity. 65% said that they are fearful or at risk of eviction or utility shut off in the next three months.
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No Safety Net. 76% of undocumented workers were fearful of seeking assistance or resources from the federal, state, or local government due to their immigration status.

Lack of Medical Insurance. 51% of respondents (and 88% of undocumented workers) reported that they do not have medical insurance. In Miami-Dade, 100% of undocumented workers report that they lack health insurance, compared to 42% in Massachusetts.


Indian caste discrimination in America?

Monday, August 10th, 2020

California’s fair-employment regulator is suing San Jose technology giant Cisco, alleging it allowed supervisors of upper-caste Indian origin to discriminate against an engineer from the caste formerly known as “untouchable.”

The Department of Fair Employment and Housing noted in its suit that members of the “Dalit” caste, known previously as “untouchables,” continue to face discrimination and segregation in India, and the agency alleged that at Cisco, “higher caste supervisors and co-workers imported the discriminatory system’s practices” into the team where the engineer worked. The engineer is identified anonymously as John Doe in the suit filed in U.S. District Court in San Jose, which accuses Cisco of violating federal civil rights law and state employment laws. 

Doe’s team was made up entirely of employees who immigrated to the U.S. as adults from India, all but him from high castes, the suit alleged. “Doe was expected to accept a caste hierarchy within the workplace where Doe held the lowest status within the team and, as a result, received less pay, fewer opportunities, and other inferior terms and conditions of employment,” the suit claimed. “They also expected him to endure a hostile work environment.”

From here.

Jobs occupied by low wage immigrants to decline

Monday, August 3rd, 2020


The Brookings Institution predicts that the pandemic will permanently drive down job numbers for some occupations not requiring more than a HS degree. Some today have high shares of immigrant workers with little formal education. The net effect will be a decline in the attractiveness of the American job market to non-English speaking immigrants with little formal education. The impact of migration trends will be gradual.

Elimination of jobs due to telework: “If telepresence displaces a meaningful fraction of professional office time and business travel, the accompanying reductions in office occupancy, daily commuting trips, and business excursions will mean steep declines in demand for building cleaning, security, and maintenance service; hotel workers and restaurant staff; taxi and ride-hailing drivers; and myriad other workers who feed, transport, clothe, entertain, and shelter people when they are not in their own homes. These services account for one in four U.S. jobs. While immigrants make up about 17% of all workers, they make up to 25% or more of the workers in these categories.

Elimination of jobs due to “automation forcing.” “A consequence of the crisis is what one might generically call automation forcing. Spurred by social distancing requirements and stay-at-home orders that generated a severe temporary labor shortage, firms have discovered new ways to harness emerging technologies to accomplish their core tasks with less human labor—fewer workers per store, fewer security guards and more cameras, more automation in warehouses, and more machinery applied to nightly scrubbing of workplaces…. In the meatpacking industry,
where the novel coronavirus has sickened thousands of workers, the COVID crisis will speed the adoption of robotic automation.” Immigrant workers with little formal education probably account for a quarter of these jobs.

Jobs still in demand for workers with little formal education will be client-focused, low productivity jobs such as health aides and personal aides, which required proficiency in English. This favors workers from the Caribbean, Africa, and Philippines, not Latin America.

By David Autor and Elizabeth Reynolds, Brookings Institution

American immigration policy and global talent

Saturday, August 1st, 2020

In 2016 I posted on global talent flows. Where does American immigration policy now stand on these flows?

If Trump is not re-elected, we may see a return of immigration policy that is friendly to talent, but will face challenges: (1) the pandemic’s disruption of travel, which may translate into changes in employment location, (2) a great imbalance of talented immigration into a relatively few metros, (3) the chronic resistance of both parties to workforce planning, which makes it very difficult to forge intelligent immigration reform.

The American economy participants in the global talent flow in three channels: as a desired location of getting advanced degrees; for temporary employment; and for permanent immigration. One channel cannot be cut off without adversely affecting the others.

Advanced degrees: According to a 2013 article, “Over the last half century, the United States has been the most important training ground for the global supply of science and engineering talent. Where S&E PhDs choose to locate after they have completed their education is likely to affect the global distribution of innovative capacity. “77% of foreign-born S&E PhDs state that they plan to stay in the United States.”

The higher education industry is the U.S. has become financial dependent on these students. “As of 2017, 81% of full-time graduate students in electrical and petroleum engineering programs at U.S. universities are international students, and 79% in computer science are. National Foundation for American Policy report in 2017 said that “both majors and graduate programs could not be maintained without international students.”

This flow of students to the U.S. is being diverted to Canada and other English speaking countries, but not to China.

Non-academic immigrants, temporary and permanent: Foreign workers make up about half of some STEM workforces in the U.S. This is part of a dramatic global migration of highly educated workers. The number of migrants with a tertiary degree rose nearly 130 percent from 1990 to 2010, while low skilled (primary educated) migrants increased by only 40 percent during that time. Then flow has headed to English speaking countries.

For the U.S. and other recipient countries, high-skilled immigration is linked to clusters of technology and knowledge production. The H-1B visa program is the nation’s largest temporary employment visa program. The visa holders are concentrated in metro areas of New York City, Dallas, Washington, Boston, and San Jose. These markets have depended on temporary and permanent foreign stem workers for their growth of knowledge industries.  Most areas of the country do not experience the flourishing of the knowledge economy and its foreign workers (as does the Boulder CO area to which I recently moved from Vermont).

The student flow and non-academic flows are intertwined. In San Diego, 28% of H-1B temporary visas went to foreign workers with advanced degrees from a U.S. university or college

Source of some data: Sari Pekkala Kerr, William Kerr, Çaǧlar Özden and Christopher Parsons. Global Talent Flows, Working Paper 22715. NBER, October 2016

Bangladeshi workers in the Gulf and the pandemic

Tuesday, July 28th, 2020

Eight of Bangladeshi’s 160 million people live outside the country. About half, or 4.2 million, live in the Gulf region*, the second largest group in the region behind migrants from India. Most of them are unskilled and from the most poverty-ridden regions of Bangladesh. Almost all of them are contract migrants, meaning they return after a fixed tenure typically lasting between three and ten years.

These migrants have contributed to building up the vast highways, eye-catching skyscrapers, thriving industries, and world-class cities. Their cost of migration is often exorbitant, with significant shares of the recruitment fees handed off to middlemen, with the remainder covering agency fees at both ends, official costs, and plane tickets. Most become indebted to raise the funds, pawning their land, selling property, taking high-interest loans, or borrowing from relatives.

These migrants are largely left out of pandemic response programs of these countries, despite relatively high infection rates. In Saudi Arabia migrants account for 38% of the population but 76% case confirmed as of May.

Bangladesh received U.S. $18.3 billion via remittances sent via formal channels in 2019, 73% of which came from the Gulf region. Remittances were equal to 6% of the country’s $302.6 billion GDP. The World Bank predicted that South Asian countries might face a 22% decline in remittances during 2020.

*The Gulf region in this posting includes Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates (UAE), Bahrain, Kuwait, Oman and Qatar.

From the Migration Policy Institute

Reforming pandemic aid

Monday, July 13th, 2020

I posted before on how the federal pandemic aid to household explicitly excluded several million persons because one adult in the household did not have proper identification for residence in the U.S. (social security number). Thus many citizens and permanent residents were left out. The legislation is the CARES Act. (Go here and here).

The Migration Policy Center reports that a bill to correct this was submitted by Senator Marco Rubio and Republican congressman Mario Diaz-Balart. MPI estimates the legislation could benefit 1.7 million spouses excluded from the CARES Act stimulus and 1.7 million of the 3.7 million children who were also left out.

Among the biggest recipient states: 896,000 spouses and children could receive payments in California 2% of the state’s population), 609,000 in Texas (2%, 240,000 in New York and 148,000 in Florida (1%).

Ban on temporary work visas – H-1B visas

Friday, July 10th, 2020

I turn again to Asel Mukambetova of Selflawyer, here to summarize the impact of the Trump Administration’s ban on temporary work visas.

Asel’s assessment: President Trump passed an executive order on June 23, 2020 temporarily banning all new work visas issued to foreign nationals until the end of 2020. Suspended work visas include H-1B, used by U.S. tech companies for highly qualified foreign professionals, and four other visa categories. All told, Trump’s executive order can bar the entry of up to 525,000 foreign workers.

Before this ban, H-1 visa denials skyrocketed between FY 2015 and 2020. The number of RFEs (Request for Evidence) issued also showed a drastic upward trend for the same period. Between FY 2015 and FY 2019 shows that USCIS increased its RFEs by 64% and denial rate by 82%.

The software industry alone creates 14.4 million jobs and contributes $1.6 trillion in the total value-added GDP of the U.S. economy. The computer-related sector employs the highest percentage of the H-1B workforce. Top U.S. tech firms like Google, Twitter, Facebook, Amazon among others rely on employment visas like H-1B, to hire critically needed tech workers from overseas. This allows them to maintain global competitive standards, which in turn boosts the economy and helps create millions of jobs for American citizens.

Trump’s ban will discourage companies from locating their branches in the U.S., creating opportunities for countries like Canada and Australia.

PFR: I have posted often on H-IB workers and stem workers. This in 2017: The nation’s STEM workforce that is foreign-born doubled from 11.9% in 1990 to 24.3% in 2015. They account for 47% of STEM workers with advanced degrees.