Report

Immigration in US – Selecting those with the skills to fill the jobs of the future will be vital to the country’s economic vitality

WASHINGTON — Even before the COVID-19 pandemic and resulting job dislocation unseen since the Great Depression of the 1930s, economists and futurists predicted extensive changes to the future of work in the United States. While the focus has been chiefly on the transformations that automation and off-shoring will bring, and a related discussion about the quality of future jobs, the research has been largely silent on another important force shaping the U.S. labor market: Immigration.

The report, Navigating the Future of Work: The Role of Immigrant-Origin Workers in the Changing U.S. Economy, seeks to fill the research gap. Using data from the U.S. Census Bureau and the Bureau of Labor Statistics, as well as occupation-specific projections for automation and off-shoring, the researchers examine the impacts long-term economic trends might have on the future of work for immigrant-origin and third/higher-generation workers (U.S.-born workers with U.S.-born parents).

Notwithstanding an economic future made more uncertain by the COVID-19 fallout, the report finds that immigrant-origin workers have roughly the same prospects for future job growth and decline as other U.S. workers. In 2018, 22 percent of immigrant-origin workers held jobs in high-growth job sectors, as compared to 24 percent of third/higher generation workers. On the other hand, 26 percent of immigrant-origin workers were in occupations projected to decline, compared to 29 percent of third/higher-generation workers.

The picture is not even by race and ethnicity, the report finds. Both immigrant-origin and third/higher-generation Latinos are less likely than workers in other major racial or ethnic groups to hold jobs of the future and more likely to hold jobs susceptible to decline given automation and off-shoring.

The picture is brighter for other workers. Due at least in part to their high average educational attainment, Black immigrant-origin workers were over-represented in jobs of the future in 2018, particularly in health care and health-care support. And White and Asian American and Pacific Islander (AAPI) workers, particularly those of immigrant origins, are well positioned for jobs of the future, holding these at higher rates and declining jobs at lower rates in 2018 than immigrant-origin workers overall.

Among the report’s other findings:

    • ► The jobs of the future will mainly be high skilled or middle skilled. The jobs projected to grow the most over the coming decade, and to have a lower risk of automation and offshoring, tend to be high skilled (generally requiring a bachelor’s degree or higher, or at least several years of experience or training) or middle skilled (generally requiring vocational schooling, an associate degree, or one to two years of on-the-job training or experience). Jobs of the future are concentrated in health care, education, management, and social service occupations.
    • ► The future is less certain for low-skilled jobs, in large part because they are projected to be the most susceptible to automation. On the one hand, the U.S. Department of Labor’s Bureau of Labor Statistics has projected high growth for some low-skilled jobs between 2018 and 2028, including personal and home care aides, food preparation and serving workers, home health-care aides, cooks, and janitors. On the other hand, lower-skilled jobs are projected to be at a higher risk of automation than other occupations. However, the potential timing and scale of automation’s effects on these and other low-skilled jobs are uncertain, in part because immigration and other changes in worker supply can influence the pace of automation.
    • ► Immigrant-origin workers face about the same prospects for future job growth and decline as other U.S. workers. In 2018, 22 percent of immigrant-origin workers held jobs of the future, compared to 24 percent of third/higher-generation workers. At the same time, 26 percent of immigrant-origin workers were in occupational groups projected to decline, compared to 29 percent of third/higher- generation workers.
    • ► Women are more likely than men to hold both jobs of the future and declining jobs. As of 2018, women were heavily concentrated in jobs of the future in health care, health-care support, and personal service occupations, as well as in declining office and administrative support occupations. Male-dominated jobs often fell somewhere between these two categories; many occupations such as construction, transportation, and computer and mathematical jobs are projected to grow but are also at a higher risk of automation and offshoring than many occupations held predominantly by women.
    • ► Both immigrant-origin and third/higher-generation Latinos are less likely than workers in other major racial or ethnic groups to hold jobs of the future and more likely to hold declining jobs. They were underrepresented in management and health-care practitioner occupations in 2018 and overrepresented in farming, forestry, and fishing occupations and in production jobs such as manufacturing.
      Black immigrant-origin workers were overrepresented in jobs of the future in 2018, particularly in health care and health-care support. By contrast, U.S.-born Black workers with U.S.-born parents were overconcentrated in declining jobs, such as office and administrative support occupations. Black immigrants to the United States are generally positively selected for their schooling and skills, while the educational attainment and job prospects of native-born Black workers are heavily affected by the long history of racial discrimination in the United States.
    • ► Black immigrant-origin workers have better future labor market prospects than Black third/ higher-generation workers. Due at least in part to their high average educational attainment,
    • ► White and Asian workers, particular those of immigrant origins, are well-positioned for jobs of the future. White and Asian American and Pacific Islander (AAPI) immigrant-origin workers held jobs of the future at higher rates and declining jobs at lower rates in 2018 than immigrant-origin workers overall. White and AAPI third/higher-generation workers were about as likely as all third/higher- generation workers to hold jobs of the future.
    • ► The available evidence does not suggest a sharp rise in contract or contingent work, despite earlier concerns about a shift toward these more precarious forms of work. In 2018, the main jobs of most U.S. workers, including those with immigrant origins, involved traditional, formal employment arrangements: they held jobs expected to last for an extended period and were listed on the company payroll. The share of U.S. workers primarily employed through less formal arrangements—those in contract positions or contingent work (i.e., jobs with a limited duration)—has held steady over the past 15 years. However, available evidence suggests that immigrant-origin workers may be more likely than third/higher-generation workers to be misclassified as contract workers and to work in the informal economy, and that they are slightly more likely to work in limited-duration jobs.

The researchers note the importance of education and workforce development, including in areas such as digital competency, to address the changing labor trends and build career resilience. “Many workers in declining jobs may find that it takes substantial effort through additional education, training and/or work experience to attain the skills necessary to secure jobs of the future,” write analysts Julia Gelatt, Jeanne Batalova and Randy Capps.

They also suggest careful monitoring of changing labor market trends will be important in deciding immigration admission policies.

“In the short term, as the country endures the economic contraction brought on by the pandemic, there may be limited appetite for bringing new foreign-born workers to the United States. But as the economy recovers, training for immigrant-origin and other U.S. workers and policies that select the immigrants with the skills to fill the jobs of the future will be vital to the country’s economic vitality,” the report concludes.

Chosen excerpts by Job Market Monitor. Read the whole story @ Growing Role of Immigrant-Origin Workers Long Overlooked in Discussions about Future of Work in U.S.; New MPI Report Seeks to Fill Research Gap | migrationpolicy.org

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