Can we afford to not reform our immigration system?

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While reviewing immigration news this week, two articles jumped out at me. Both were about the importance of immigration to the US economy.

The first was in Yahoo! Finance and reported on a press briefing by the Secretary of Labor on the November Job Numbers. During this briefing, he (the Secretary) first highlighted the fact that there was overall growth in job levels and well as in average hourly earnings, but that the unemployment rate remained quite low, at 3.7%. According to the Secretary, this showed that the current US Immigration system, allowing only a very limited number of skilled workers in every year, is a threat to our economy. (Link to article here). The Secretary also noted, that during his travels across the country, while talking to businesses, he repeatedly heard that businesses are desperately looking for employees and cannot find them. Considering there are approximately 10.3 million open jobs in the US, many for skilled worker, it is no wonder that they cannot find employees and no wonder that they are very in favor of immigration reform.

In addition to showing the need to fix our broken immigration system, these numbers also showed that, as of yet, there was no rush of US Citizens looking for employment once pandemic restrictions eased and people started going back to acting normally, which economists thought could happen and would ease the current employee crunch.

The second article discusses a speech given by the Federal Reserve Chairman, Jerome Powell at the Brooking’s Institute , in which he touched on the state of our economy, immigration, and the potential for a recession. It quotes Mr. Powell saying:

The truth is that the path ahead for inflation remains highly uncertain. For now, let’s put aside the forecasts and look instead to the macroeconomic conditions we think we need to see to bring inflation down to 2 percent over time.

In the labor market, demand for workers far exceeds the supply of available workers, and nominal wages have been growing at a pace well above what would be consistent with 2 percent inflation over time. Thus, another condition we are looking for is the restoration of balance between supply and demand in the labor market.

The second factor contributing to the labor supply shortfall is slower growth in the working-age population. The combination of a plunge in net immigration and a surge in deaths during the pandemic probably accounts for about 1-1/2 million missing workers.

Jerome Powell

When looked at together, both these articles paint a strong economic argument for everyone to be in support of immigration reform and expanding our current immigration system. Instead of hurting our economic situation, immigration helps. Study after study has shown this, and these two prominent government officials are simply stating the obvious at this point – in order to keep from sliding into more of a recession we need to reform immigration now.

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