Is Immigration a Solution for Economic Growth?
Workforce Immigration Trends
Reports show that immigration secures huge economic benefits through job creation and increased GDP. The tech talent crunch has been a persistent story throughout the recession and recovery, American companies need access to highly skilled international workers in order to compete. If we do not allow highly skilled foreign workers into the US, they will contribute to another country’s economy instead of ours, and America would risk losing its preeminent place as the world’s business powerhouses, and the Fortune 500 companies of the future.
More than forty percent of the 2010 Fortune 500 companies were founded by immigrants or their children; and seven of the ten most valuable brands in the world come from American companies founded by immigrants or children of immigrants. Many of America’s greatest brands inlcuding Apple, Google, AT&T, Budweiser, Colgate, eBay, General Electric, IBM, and McDonald’s, were founded by an immigrant or the child of an immigrant, according to Partnership for a New American Economy.
The “New American” Fortune 500 report states that immigrants spur job creation across all industries, including the highest growth sectors:
- 45% of high-tech firms from the Fortune 500 had either an immigrant or child of an immigrant among its founders,
- 50% of the medical equipment and device makers, including the three largest players by revenue, were founded by immigrants or their children,
- Immigrant-founded Fortune 500 companies employ 3.6 million workers around the world today,
- Fortune 500 companies founded by immigrants to the United States generated more than $1.7 trillion in revenues in 2010; companies founded by immigrants or children of immigrants generated more than $4.2 trillion in revenues that year.
The Brookings Institute’s Hamilton Project reports on the impact of new immigration on wages. While some worry about a negative impact on wages resulting from new immigration, several studies have shown that on average, immigration can positively impact wages and opportunities for Americans. When immigrants are hired into lower paid positions, American businesses and farms can expand their capacity which then provides new opportunities and better pay for more Americans. When there is a shortage of the right skills in the labor marketplace and highly skilled immigrants are able to enter the workforce, then American companies benefit in their competitiveness and capacity, again providing more jobs and opportunities, better pay follows.
Another report by the Regional Economic Models, Inc (REMI) Key Components of Immigration Reform estimates that the proposed Pathway to Legal Status policy would increase total U.S. employment by 123,000 in 2014, and by 594,000 by 2018. The GDP that would result includes an increase of over $10 billion in 2014, and over $49 billion in 2018. An expansion of the high-skilled (H-1B) worker visa program would add 227,000 jobs by 2014. The report argues for the expansion of lesser-skilled visas (H-2A [farm visas], H-2B [seasonal, peak load, and intermittent worker visas] and W-1 [lesser-skilled nonseasonal worker visas]) as well, citing increases in employment and GDP through increased economic productivity and output. The REMI report states that “expansion of these visas will benefit not only those who receive them, but also the workers and consumers in the U.S. economy as a whole.”
The positive impacts and need for top talent are the inspiration behind the formation of FWD.us by leaders of the US technology community, from tech giants such as Facebook, Google, YouTube, LinkedIn, DropBox, and other household names. FWD.us is a 501(c)(4) advocacy organization committed to promoting policies to keep the American workforce competitive. The group promotes comprehensive immigration reform: Easing immigration for foreign talent and enticing native entrepreneurs to stay in the country are among the group’s goals. The mission is “to build the knowledge economy the US needs to ensure more jobs, innovation and investment,” states Mark Zuckerberg in a Washington Post Op/Ed.