E.g., 11/21/2014
E.g., 11/21/2014

Immigrants and Labor Force Trends: The Future, Past, and Present

Policy Briefs
July 2006

Immigrants and Labor Force Trends: The Future, Past, and Present

Debates on immigration policy often discuss calibrating immigration levels to meet the labor needs of the nation’s economy. Indeed, it is clear that immigration strongly affects U.S. labor markets – over the past thirty years, foreign-born workers have grown to record numbers, and currently about one out of every seven U.S. workers was born outside the country.

Trends suggest that unless immigration laws are changed drastically, immigrants will form an increasing share of the workforce over the next thirty years. Foreign-born workers are well-represented in occupations predicted to grow most over the next decades, suggesting such workers will remain in demand. As a result, immigrants are expected to form about one-third of the low-skilled labor force over coming decades, and up to 18 percent of college-educated workers. Immigrants are also expected to assist in addressing the needs of an aging population by providing services to the elderly, altering worker-to-retiree ratios, and providing tax revenues that support programs for the aged. While the future of the country’s economy is uncertain, it seems quite clear that immigrants will play a large role in the future workforce.

Table of Contents 

I. Introduction

II. Projections of Tomorrow’s Labor Force

III. Projections of Workers by Education

IV. Projection of Workers by Occupation

V. Population Dependency and Productivity

VI. The Last Thirty Years: Increases in Foreign Workers from New Sending Countries

VII. Past and Present Rates of Employment and Unemployment

VIII. Past and Present Rates of Educational Attainment

IX. Past and Present Changes in Occupational Employment

X. The Recent Picture: Changes in Industrial Employment

XI. Conclusion