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Facing a shortage of high-skilled workers, employers are seeking more immigrant talent, study finds

Facing a shortage of high-skilled

June 11, 2021: On Thursday, According to a new report released, the U.S. does not have enough high-skilled workers to meet the demand for computer-related jobs, and employers are seeking immigrant talent to help fill that gap.

For every unemployed computer or math worker in the country in 2020, there were over seven job postings for computer-related occupations, bipartisan immigration research group New American Economic finds.

“More nuanced and responsive policy around employment-based immigration could be one way to help the U.S. quickly and more robustly bounce back from the coronavirus pandemic and future economic disruptions and crises,” the report added.

The study comes as record job openings in the U.S. coincide with persistent unemployment, which suggests a mismatch in labor demand and supply. As a result, the U.S. Chamber of Commerce launched a campaign calling for an increase in employment-based immigration to address the shortage of workers.

NAE, which billionaire Mike Bloomberg founded, analyzed data from Labor Certification Applications for foreign-born skilled workers, unemployment numbers from the Bureau of Labor Statistics, and the job postings data from the website Burning Glass Technologies.

According to NAE’s analysis, employers in the U.S. posted 1.36 million job openings for computer-related roles in 2020. Yet there were only 177,000 unemployed workers in computer and math occupations last year, NAE found, use Labor Department data.

“Even something as powerful and traumatic and unprecedented as Covid did not put a dent in the country’s demand and shortage of high-skilled STEM talent,” said Dick Burke, president, and CEO of Envoy Global, an immigration services firm that co-authored the study.

Employers continued to seek high-skilled immigrant workers to fill labor shortages during the pandemic. As a result, there were 371,641 foreign labor requests for computer-related jobs filed in 2020, NAE reported.

The U.S. disproportionately relies on foreign-born talent in computer-related jobs. For example, immigrants made up 25% of the computing workforce in 2019, according to NAE’s analysis of Census data, compared with 17.4% of the broader labor force, according to the Labor Department.

“The evidence in this report is adding more support to the idea that there are still needs from employers in the United States for computer-related workers that are not being addressed by current immigration policy in the United States,” said Andrew Lim, director of quantitative research at NAE.

As measured by Labor Certification Applications requests, seven of the ten fastest-growing jobs for immigrant workers were computer-related, NAE reported.

“We have not revamped our legal immigration categories, including business immigration, since 1990. As a result, some of those categories are out of alignment with our needs in the United States today,” said Stephen Yale-Loehr, an immigration law professor at Cornell Law School who was not involved with the NAE study.

“The pandemic has exacerbated those inconsistencies because people who are desperately needed to restart various businesses have been unable to enter the United States,” Yale-Loehr said.

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