Migration Policy Institute (MPI)
Uneven Progress: The Employment Pathways of Skilled Immigrants in the United States [22 October 2008] http://www.migrationpolicy.org/pubs/BrainWasteOct08.pdf [full-text, 70 pages]
Press Release 22 October 2008 New Report on 'Brain Waste': 1 in 5 College-Educated Immigrants in U.S. Labor Market Stuck in Unskilled Jobs or Unemployed http://www.migrationpolicy.org/news/2008_10_22.php
WASHINGTON More than 1.3 million college-educated immigrants living in the United States are unemployed or working as taxi drivers, dishwashers, security guards or in other unskilled jobs because they are unable to make full use of their academic and professional credentials, according to a new report issued today by the Migration Policy Institute.
The report, http://www.migrationpolicy.org/pubs/BrainWasteOct08.pdf Uneven Progress: The Employment Pathways of Skilled Immigrants in the United States¸ for the first time quantifies the scope of the brain waste problem that affects 22 percent of the 6.1 million immigrants with a bachelors degree or higher who are in the U.S. labor market. The report analyzes and offers possible solutions for the credentialing and language-barrier hurdles that deprive the U.S. economy of a rich source of human capital at a time of increasing competition globally for skilled talent.
While policymakers in Europe, Canada and elsewhere are focusing intently on attracting highly skilled immigrants, it is all the more necessary for the United States to fully leverage the talents of college-educated immigrants already living here more than half of whom came with academic degrees earned abroad, said Michael Fix, MPIs senior vice president and co-author of the report. Its vital for the U.S. economy and its productivity in an ever-more globalized world, as well as for the immigrants themselves.
Said report co-author Jeanne Batalova, an MPI policy analyst: During a period of rising unemployment and economic difficulties, its important to think ahead and make clear that allowing college-educated immigrants already in the United States to achieve greater career potential can increase U.S. productivity and competitiveness. Numerous studies have shown that highly skilled immigrants contribute to the economy through innovation and entrepreneurship, and pay more in taxes than they take out in services. Maximizing the use of their human capital can be an engine for job creation.
Among the reports findings: * Many highly skilled immigrants experience a sharp drop in occupational status upon first coming to the United States. How quickly they recover their status depends on a number of factors, including English skills, region of origin, place of education and length of time in this country. * Overall, college-educated immigrants from Africa and Latin America have less success in finding skilled jobs in the United States than do immigrants from Asia and Europe. * Highly skilled immigrants with U.S. college degrees or U.S. work experience prior to permanent settlement fared far better than their peers with foreign-obtained degrees or no U.S. work experience. * English language proficiency is critical to obtaining jobs commensurate with immigrants competencies.
The report offers a number of policy suggestions to improve the professional outcomes for the highly skilled, including integrated language and workforce training; and the creation of a standing commission on labor markets that would recommend adjustments in visa levels and put the immigration system in sync with the economy.
In addition to offering a national snapshot, the reports authors examined skill underutilization on the state level by analyzing U.S. Census data for California, Illinois, Maryland and New York. The report is available online at: www.migrationpolicy.org/pubs/BrainWasteOct08.pdf ###
TABLE OF CONTENTS Executive Summary 1 Key Findings 2 Policy Implications 2 Future Research Agenda 3 I. College-Educated Immigrants and Skill Waste: Introduction 5 The Issue 5 Goals and Organization of the Paper 7 II. Points of Departure 9 III. Skill Underutilization among Educated Immigrants: Results from the American Community Survey 11 Immigrants in the Highly Skilled Workforce 12 Unemployment and Employment Patterns 13 Earnings 15 The Skill Levels of Jobs Held by Immigrants 15 Country Variations 18 Assessing the Impact of Language Proficiency 21 State-Level Findings on Skill Underutilization 21 IV. Occupational Trajectories of Highly Skilled Legal Permanent Residents: Results from the New Immigrant Survey 25 Quality of Job Index 26 V. American Community Survey versus the New Immigrant Survey: Telling Consistent Stories 31 VI. Conclusion 33 Integration Policies 33 Credentialing 33 Language and Workforce Training 35 Other Barriers 37 Universal Approach 38 Immigration Policy 39 Transitional Temporary-to-Permanent Visas 39 Immigration and Labor Markets 39 VII. Future Research Agenda 41 Appendix A. Occupational Titles by Required Skills, Education, and Training 43 Appendix B. Demographic and Social Characteristics of the Highly Skilled, 20052006 45 Appendix C. Demographic and Social Characteristics of Employed Highly Skilled Workers in California, Illinois, Maryland, and New York, 20052006 47 Appendix D. State-Level Charts, 20052006 49 Appendix E. LPR Definitions 55 Appendix F.1. Selected Demographic and Socioeconomic Characteristics of Foreign-Educated LPRs by Class of Admission, 2003 57 Appendix F.2. Selected Demographic and Socioeconomic Characteristics of Foreign-Educated LPRs by Place of Birth, 2003 59 Works Cited 61
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