Outlook: Legal Immigration Challenges Across Industries
Outlook: Legal Immigration Challenges Across Industries

Outlook: Legal Immigration Challenges Across Industries

Ryan Dinkler |

A huge problem hiding in plain sight.

Businesses of every size and across all industries are experiencing a similar challenge: they have a lot of open jobs, but not enough workers to fill them. 

For reference, the US Bureau of Labor Statistics reported that on November 1st, there were ~10 million open jobs and ~6 million unemployed. Many attribute the ~4 million additional open positions to common factors like the Covid-19 pandemic, America’s aging population, the rising demand for better wages and flexible work environments, or the lack of childcare — but that’s only a portion of the problem. In fact, it’s missing what some experts say is the direct cause of ⅓ of the total employment gap: legal immigration. 

The Bigger Problem: Legal Immigration

America’s legal immigration problem has mostly been attributed to antiquated, broken processes involved in bringing in skilled professionals, resulting in fewer foreign-born skilled workers coming into the United States.

Why is this important? Because immigrants have a profound impact on the economy and the world around us. In fact, the June 2022 study from The Immigration Research Center showed that 44% of the Fortune 500 companies — some of the most widely recognizable and influential organizations in the world — were founded by immigrants or are the children of immigrants.

Marty Walsh, the US Labor Secretary, said: “we worry about a recession, we worry about inflation, I think we’ll have a bigger catastrophe if we don’t bring more workers into our society, and that happens through immigration.”

However, the lower immigrant numbers in our workforce present other issues to be aware of. Specifically, in two major industries — one of which could have deadly consequences.

STEM Industry Setbacks

With a focus on the national benefits of science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM), the Biden-Harris administration stated in a White House press release that “our history is filled with examples of how America’s ability to attract global talent has spurred path-breaking innovation.”

To provide a bit more context on how much the industry relies on foreign-born talent, New American Economy reports that foreign-born professionals in STEM represent nearly 25% of the entire industry’s workforce. Despite the reliance on foreign-born professionals, the current policies put in place continue to allow new talent to be lost for many reasons, including historically low H-1B caps.

Healthcare Industry Setbacks

The labor shortage in the healthcare industry is nothing new. Throughout the Covid-19 pandemic, headlines often showed up, providing a brief glimpse into the severe nursing staff shortage. The pandemic, burnout, and retirement are all commonly cited as reasons for this shortage. However, legal immigration and foreign-born workers have historically played a key role in the industry. 

The National Immigration Forum reports that Immigrants make up 15% of nurses, over 25% of health aides, 38% of home health aides, and 28% of physicians and surgeons. America’s healthcare industry relies heavily on a steady flow of foreign-born workers. Without this flow, we could expect to see a significant gap, and that’s exactly what has happened.

By 2025, Mercer predicts that the U.S. will face a healthcare shortage of over 500,000 workers. A labor gap of this size will have lasting ripple effects such as rising wait times, hospital & care facility closures, and patients needing to travel long distances to receive the care they need. How do we know this? Because we’re seeing these issues present themselves with the current gap size, they will only increase in severity as fewer legal immigrants make their way to the states.

Moving Forward in Legal Immigration 

Until policies change and we see an influx of foreign-born professionals, it’s important we serve those in the process of immigrating to the US now. For many, that’s ensuring that every client’s need is met and the process is as seamless as possible, because that’s what’s in their power. Immigration professionals need the right tools capable of simplifying global immigration case management and compliance for everyone involved.

To learn more about how INSZoom does that, click here.

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