The COVID-19 pandemic has disrupted global supply chains and kept people from going back to work at a time when the demand for goods and labor is high. This has left America contending with a labor shortage while also experiencing high levels of inflation.
To investigate further, the new report “Amid Rising Inflation, Immigrant Workers Help Ease Labor Shortages” examines how immigration can help meet labor demands and move the U.S. economy forward.
Using employment projections from the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), data from the American Community Survey, and data on job openings from Burning Glass, the American Immigration Council created an interactive data visualization to explain how the labor market has shifted since the pandemic, show which occupations will experience increased demand, and detail how immigrant workers will continue to be vital to the fastest growing jobs from now until 2030.
The interactive shows that healthcare practitioners like nurses, physicians, and surgeons had the highest number of online job postings in 2021 at 4.9 million. These are also some of the same occupations that immigrants are disproportionately active in. While immigrants make up 13.7% of the overall U.S. population, they make up 15.6% of all healthcare practitioners.
The report also identifies occupations that grew the most in online job postings between 2019 and 2021. The top six occupational groups that experienced high growth were: transportation, construction, healthcare support, buildings and grounds, manufacturing, and food preparation. Many of these groups are made up of occupations that were widely considered essential during the pandemic and as such, saw increased demand during the first two years of the pandemic. Like healthcare professions, these essential jobs also have higher shares of immigrant workers ranging from 19.1% to 34.4%, all of which are higher than the immigrant share of the U.S. population.
Job growth patterns over the next decade, however, will look different from the ones seen during the pandemic. As baby boomers age, demand for healthcare support workers is expected to rise substantially and projected to have the highest growth rate from now to 2030. Over one in five workers (22.4%) in these occupations are immigrants.
Occupations related to computers and math had little growth in 2021. These occupations, however, are projected to have the fourth highest growth rate in the next decade. In 2019, one in five workers (24.7%) in fields like statistics, software, and web development were immigrants.
The report also includes an interactive tool to explore how the pandemic, the aging of the existing workforce, and other projected labor exits are expected to impact the U.S. labor force. The report’s tool highlights how the U.S. labor market by 2030 will need more immigrant workers because of demographic trends. Gen Z, those born after 1996, are a numerically smaller generation that will produce fewer U.S.-born workers than the baby boomers who are leaving the workforce. The gap between this growing demand and the diminishing supply of U.S.-born workers means that more workers will need to come from abroad or these positions will go unfilled.
As the U.S. economy continues to evolve and as demands for workers shift, we will launch a Labor Market Series that will further explore a variety of issues related to the U.S. labor market and immigration. From agriculture to high-tech sectors of the labor market and from Maine to California, the series will examine how labor demands are changing and how immigration plays into our ability to meet these demands. Each part of the Labor Market Series aims to highlight the importance of immigrants and immigration in creating a dynamic and more prosperous economy for all.