The immigration slowdown that began several years ago and worsened during the COVID-19 pandemic has left the U.S. with a worrisome lack of working-age immigrants, exacerbating labor shortages across industries, according to The Wall Street Journal (subscription).
Feeling the pain: The decline “has left the U.S. with 2.4 million fewer immigrants of working age—about 1% of the working-age population—than if pre-2017 immigration trends had continued, according to Giovanni Peri, a labor economist at the University of California, Davis.”
- Industries that tend to employ more non-U.S.-born employees than average are also struggling more to fill job openings, Peri told the Journal.
Fewer green cards: “In five top countries where people receive green cards to work in the U.S.—Mexico, the Dominican Republic, Vietnam, the Philippines and China—the fiscal year ended last September saw declines of half to two-thirds in green-card issuance from two years prior, according to Department of Homeland Security figures.”
- The pandemic has also increased the wait for work permits for those already in the U.S.
- And in addition, “[a]bout a fifth of consulates still aren’t processing most visas, and even those that are open are buried under a backlog of 7.5 million applications, according to State Department data.”
The breakdown: The number of foreign-born workers varies from sector to sector.
- Approximately 21% of truckers are foreign-born, and the rate of openings in transportation, warehousing and utilities is 6.6%.
- About 28% of construction workers are foreign born; 4.8% of jobs are open in that sector.
- Some 17.2% of health care and social assistance workers were born outside the U.S., and 9% of those jobs are vacant.