Does the US Need More Immigrants?
Amidst talk of reforms that would diminish the number of immigrants allowed into the United States, many have debated their potential impacts on the economy. President of the Dallas Federal Reserve, Robert Kaplan, says that immigration should actually be increased in order to positively impact the economy. He argued in an interview with CNBC that due to the aging population, workforce growth has slowed and “the domestic economy has been stuck in a mediocre growth pattern.” Though he expects positive GDP growth, Kaplan also recognizes a prevalent “skills gap” throughout the country. With a stricter immigration policy being debated, business leaders and economists still call for a healthy flow of immigration to fill gaps in the American workforce. Kaplan commented that immigrants have contributed over half the workforce growth in the United States over the past 20 years. Thus, decreasing growth would weaken the economy.
The hospitality industry in particular is calling for an increase in immigration to the United States, rather than a decrease. Jobs in leisure and hospitality make up about 10 percent of employment throughout the Midwest, and are “disproportionately filled by immigrants.” A reduction in the number of immigrants coming to the US for work would hinder the growth of this industry. While some lawmakers argue that hiring immigrants to these positions takes away job opportunities from American workers, these jobs can be low-wage and low-skill, and are hard to fill by Americans who often seek higher-skill jobs. Additionally, as Kaplan mentioned, the US-born population is aging, and in some regions shrinking.
If economists and industry leaders are in opposition the proposed immigration reduction, it raises the question whether limiting immigration would prove beneficial to Texas, the Midwest, and elsewhere.
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