Educated immigrants now outnumber lower-skilled

Marketplace Staff Jun 9, 2011
HTML EMBED:
COPY

Educated immigrants now outnumber lower-skilled

Marketplace Staff Jun 9, 2011
HTML EMBED:
COPY

BOB MOON: A fresh review of census numbers is pointing to a dramatic shift in the skill level of America’s immigrant workforce. It shows that among both temporary and permanent immigrants, highly skilled workers now outnumber lower-skilled ones.

Audrey Singer is a senior fellow with the Brookings Institution, and an author of the report. Thanks for being with us.

AUDREY SINGER: Good morning.

MOON: This seems to counter popular belief — more skilled immigrants than unskilled?

SINGER: That’s right. It’s pretty recent, but the rise of more highly skilled immigrants has happened over the last five years or so.

MOON: And how and why is this happening?

SINGER: Well, I mean we have a changing mix of needs in this country in terms of our industries and the restructuring of the U.S. economy. But we also have large flows of international students coming in — some of whom stay. We have temporary worker programs like the H1B that also bring in highly skilled immigrants.

MOON: I wonder how this might play into the economic recovery.

SINGER: Well, as we will see, the economic recovery is going to be uneven across metropolitan areas and also the changing nature of work in those places will draw different immigrants over time.

MOON: And will this skilled labor help give us that extra push?

SINGER: Well, if we take advantage of who we have here. We also found in our report that a lot of immigrants are overqualified for their jobs, and it’s up to us to support immigrants who are here whether they’re low-skilled or high-skilled or somewhere in between.

MOON: Audrey Singer is a senior fellow with the Brookings Institution. Thanks for joining us.

SINGER: You’re welcome.

We’re here to help you navigate this changed world and economy.

Our mission at Marketplace is to raise the economic intelligence of the country. It’s a tough task, but it’s never been more important.

In the past year, we’ve seen record unemployment, stimulus bills, and reddit users influencing the stock market. Marketplace helps you understand it all, will fact-based, approachable, and unbiased reporting.

Generous support from listeners and readers is what powers our nonprofit news—and your donation today will help provide this essential service. For just $5/month, you can sustain independent journalism that keeps you and thousands of others informed.