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Without continued net inflows of immigrants, the U.S. working-age population will shrink over the next two decades and by 2040, the United States will have over 6 million fewer working-age people than in 2022. Announcements of high-profile layoffs and concerns about the impact of artificial intelligence (AI) obscure America's continuing need for additional workers at the top and bottom of the skill distribution. International migration is the only potential source of growth in the U.S. working-age population in the coming years.The research involved analyzing data from the U.S. Census Bureau and the Bureau of Labor Statistics, including the Current Population Survey and the Job Openings and Labor Turnover Survey.
The Covid-19 pandemic resulted in a sharp drop in international migration to the United States, but there is no evidence the entry of fewer foreign workers on temporary visas improved outcomes for U.S. workers. The research in this policy brief examined labor markets where more temporary foreign workers were employed prior to the pandemic and found the drop in H-2B program admissions did not boost labor market opportunities for U.S. workers but rather, if anything, worsened them. The results also do not indicate gains for similar U.S. workers in labor markets that had relied more on the H-1B and J-1 visa programs.U.S. labor markets have undergone tremendous change since the onset of the Covid-19 pandemic. With unemployment rates near record lows in many areas and wages rising at a brisk clip, particularly for entry-level jobs, some may be tempted to argue that the decrease in international migration led to better labor market opportunities for American workers. The analysis here gives little reason to believe any gains for U.S. workers are linked to lower admission of temporary foreign workers.The ongoing shortages of workers in many labor markets reflect U.S. employers' need for additional workers from both domestic sources and abroad. The research also examines data on job postings and the results point to jobs, particularly highly skilled jobs, going unfilled when temporary foreign workers were unable to enter the country. The decrease in new temporary foreign workers in the U.S. as a result of the pandemic thus does not appear to have led to better labor market outcomes for U.S. natives but rather to jobs left unfilled.