Jobs and Careers for Immigrants in the United States

Immigrants have played a major role in the economic, and socio-cultural fabric of the United StatesPolicy concerning immigrants and immigration has been a hot topic in the United States. While there are reasons to be concerned about immigration, it’s largely a net positive for the American economy. But that doesn’t dispel the concern many Americans feel as it relates to jobs and national security.

So the question then is: Is immigration really a threat to the job market? Unless your employer is working the H1-B visa system over, or looking to pay below legal wages by hiring undocumented workers, it’s probably not. However, it’s an issue that needs to be discussed and addressed in full.

When it comes down to the subject of what jobs and occupations are attracting the most immigrants, some are obviously more saturated than others. Typically, newcomers (especially undocumented workers) gravitate towards the low-wage and unskilled labor. This can stem from a lack of skills, education, or experience, as well as language barriers or fear of deportation, among other factors. But educated, experienced, and driven people are coming to the U.S. as well, making jobs all across the economy more competitive. Ultimately, this benefits the job market and the economy as a whole. Though, in the short term, it can also make people fear for the jobs they do have.

Immigrants and the most popular jobs
A new report from Indeed outlines the jobs and sectors that contain the highest share of immigrant workers. That is, the industries in which the highest percentage of employees are foreign-born.

To identify these jobs, we used the Census’s American Community Survey (ACS). Respondents were asked about their employment status, occupation, birthplace, and citizenship, among many other topics. We analyzed the data for all immigrants in the U.S., and then focused on those who have been in the country less than five years,” the report said.”

The report revealed very interesting findings compared to earlier immigrants, recent immigrants are more educated, more likely to come from Asia rather than Latin America, and less likely to work in occupations where they might compete directly with the native-born workers who were most supportive of Trump.”

Among the top ten are positions in the realms of medical and life sciences, software development, market research and computer sciences. These represent a break with the normal career choices of the immigrant community as a whole. “There’s been a very big change in the past five to ten years in where immigrants coming to the U.S are more educated. Before most of the immigrant population comprised of immigrants coming from Latin America – particularly Mexico – to, more recently, much higher numbers of immigrants coming from Africa and Asia, especially India.”

For a better perspective, here’s a list of the top 10 jobs among all U.S. immigrants that you can compare to those popular among new immigrants:
• Graders and Sorters, Agricultural Products
• Personal Appearance Workers
• Plasterers and Stucco Masons
• Sewing Machine Operators
• Drywall Installers, Ceiling Tile Installers, and Tapers
• Agricultural Workers
• Tailors, Dressmakers, and Sewers
• Maids and Housekeeping Cleaners
• Pressers, Textile, Germanet, and Related Materials
• Taxi Drivers and Chauffeurs

Jobs taken by recent immigrants and those chosen by the entire immigrant population as a whole have some similarities, like agricultural worker and personal appearance workers. But newer immigrants gravitate to science and tech jobs to a greater extent than those that came before, due to their education level and point of origin.

Changes to the makeup of U.S. immigrants followed the economic slowdown that accompanied the U.S. housing bubble burst of 2008 according to Indeed. It meant there was a weaker demand in the construction industry, which took away a lot of demand in a set of occupations common for immigrants, particularly from Latin America.

Immigrants looking to move for economic reasons began to find the U.S. slightly less appealing than they had before.
Another factor has been strong demand for workers in some of these fields where immigrants now make a larger share. There’s strong demand from tech and other research industries, and employers in those sectors often point to challenges they have finding workers in the U.S.”

The geographical regions where immigrants settle have also changed. According to census data, Boston Seattle and Dallas moved into the top ten locations that new immigrants are moving to when they arrive. San Jose – part of Silicon Valley – moved ahead of Miami into the number one position according to Indeed. Places with traditionally large immigrant populations like Los Angeles, Las Vegas and Riverside, California – which is inland, east of L.A are not in the top ten for recent immigrants.

Looking ahead, there will likely be a continued need for workers in technical and scientific industries, which would be a draw for immigrants—particularly those with more education. Politics could have an impact, namely President’s Donald Trump’s campaign promises to deport unauthorized immigrants according to Indeed, who are more likely to be from Latin America than from Asia and Africa, and generally less educated. It is possible that Trump’s policies end up continuing these shifts toward an immigrant population with more education and increasingly from Africa and Asia rather than Latin America.

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