Immigrants Will Continue To Play A Major Role In The U.S. Workforce, According To Pew Research Data
The size of the United States population of working-age Americans will decline by 2035 if current rates of immigration, both legal and undocumented, are slashed, according to a report by Pew Research Center.
The biggest portion of working-age adults, people born in the U.S, whose parents were also native-born Americans, is expected to decline from 2015 to 2035. That phenomenon will put the burden for maintaining the current working age-population increasingly on immigrants, the study said.
“For most of the past half-century, adults in the U.S. Baby Boom generation – those born after World War II and before 1965 – have been the main driver of the nation’s expanding workforce,” according to the report released last week.
“But as this large generation heads into retirement, the increase in the potential labor force will slow markedly, and immigrants will play the primary role in the future growth of the working-age population (though they will remain a minority of it).”
The study, co-authored by senior demographer Jeffrey S. Passel and senior writer D'Vera Cohn, is based on current immigration patterns and doesn’t take into account the festering anti-immigrant sentiment that helped propel Donald Trump to the U.S. presidency.
Adults considered in the prime working ages of 25 to 64 totaled 173.2 million in 2015. Pew predicted that number would rise to 183.2 million in 2035.
“That total growth of 10 million over two decades will be lower than the total in any single decade since the Baby Boomers began pouring into the workforce in the 1960s,” the study said.
But the number of workers whose parents were born in the U.S. is expected to decline from 128.3 million to 120.1 million in 2035. The Pew report said the loss will be offset in part by an increase in U.S.-born adults with immigrant parents.
Future Immigrants Are Key
The key to maintaining the size of the population of workers is future immigrants, the report said. Based on current patterns, the number immigrants of working-age is expected to increase from 33.9 million in 2015 to 38.5 million by 2035.
“Perhaps the most important component of the growth in the working-age population over the next two decades will be the arrival of future immigrants,” the report said. “Without these new arrivals, the number of immigrants of working age would decline by 17.6 million by 2035, as would the total projected U.S. working-age population, which would fall to 165.6 million.”
Pew said its projections for foreign-born working-age adults are based on current rates of immigration both “lawful and unauthorized.”
Steven Camarota, director of research for the Center for Immigration Studies, said the Pew report neglects what he said are the biggest problems: The numbers of people who stopped looking for work and are no longer considered part of the labor force, and wage stagnation for all workers.
“It doesn’t make sense to keep bringing in foreign workers,” he said.
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