The U.S. Needs Immigrants to Ensure Continued Growth in Skilled Positions

terri-november-week-1-visa Amidst the increasingly heated political rhetoric regarding the United States’ immigration policy, there is an important point that many labor experts have indicated is being neglected, and that is the fact that America needs more skilled immigrant workers. According to a report published this year by a professor at Dartmouth College, restricting the entry of skilled laborers from other countries has been hurting U.S. job growth, and further restrictions will have an even more damaging effect.

According to Matthew Slaughter, dean of Dartmouth’s Tuck School of Business, the regulations that are currently in place on H-1B visa regulations are costing American companies a good deal of money and are limiting productivity growth. Slaughter, who was a member of President George W. Bush’s Council of Economic Advisors says that “high-skill immigration is a dynamic force that can help the U.S. create not just jobs, but good jobs.”  Unfortunately, under our current laws the Department of Homeland Security limits the number of those types of immigrants at 65,000 annually, and the incoming administration seems poised to cut those numbers even farther.  With demand to fill vacancies far exceeding the current cap, the limiting impact is already evident.

Those who would like to cut the number of H-1B visas even farther argue that the reason that companies prefer foreign workers is that they can pay them lower wages than they would to Americans. But Slaughter’s research suggests that this is not true, and that those who are coming to our country with the needed skills are being paid even more than American workers are. Additionally, the necessary sponsorship process costs thousands of dollars, belying the notion that firms are hiring foreigners because it is economically advantageous.

At the root of the problem is a lack of qualification. Slaughter’s study shows that the high level of skill that American companies need is lacking in our country’s talent pool, and that is holding back American productivity. He writes, “In recent years many companies, scholars and policymakers have voiced growing concern that America increasingly faces an insufficient supply of talented workers necessary to create and drive the new possibilities of information technology and other frontiers.”

Labor experts are in agreement that despite the new administration’s interest in hiring “Americans first”, the lack of skill in the current pool of workers is holding our economy back. Bill Richardson, the former governor of New Mexico, says, “Our economy desperately needs skilled professionals, and that fact is far outpacing the supply of professionals with experience and capability needed to advance and grow.” With three out of four companies indicating that they are being held back by positions for skilled workers remaining unfilled, the need for highly skilled immigrants continues to grow in importance.

If you are a highly skilled worker who is concerned about your ability to remain in the United States or to enter the country on an H-1B visa, the experienced immigration attorneys at Erik B. Jensen Attorneys at Law can help. Contact us today to learn more.