Marketplace Scratch Pad

America’s loss is world’s gain?

Scott Jagow Mar 2, 2009

A new research paper suggests immigrants are leaving the US to return to their home countries — mainly because of the job market rather than restrictive immigration policies. The Kauffman Foundation funded the research, and you can download the report here. One of the researchers also has an article in today’s Businessweek. He argues that “we may not need all these workers during the deepening recession. But we will need them to help us recover from it.”

Vivek Wadhwa says the immigrants who’ve left are unlikely to return. They are finding decent opportunities in their home countries. They miss their family and friends. And the quality of life in places like India and China is improving.

Wadhwa trots out the usual argument that “skilled” immigrants started companies like Google and Yahoo and make up a significant chunk of the hi-tech labor force. He says we will need that know-how to rebuild the US economy. That may be true, but I wonder how many Americans are thinking that way, given the economic climate.

What do you think? Is it a good thing that fewer skilled immigrants are in the job market, or is losing them going to put us at a competitive disadvantage in the recovery?

Marketplace is on a mission.

We believe Main Street matters as much as Wall Street, economic news is made relevant and real through human stories, and a touch of humor helps enliven topics you might typically find…well, dull.

Through the signature style that only Marketplace can deliver, we’re on a mission to raise the economic intelligence of the country—but we don’t do it alone. We count on listeners and readers like you to keep this public service free and accessible to all. Will you become a partner in our mission today?

Your donation is critical to the future of public service journalism. Support our work today – for as little as $5 – and help us keep making people smarter.