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Workers Needed: AIC Releases STEM Report

blog6.jpgOn June 14, 2017 the American Immigration Council (AIC) released a fact sheet on employment of foreign-born STEM workers in the U.S. Based on data collected by the American Community Survey, AIC found that nearly 1 in 5 STEM and STEM Plus--which includes the health and social sciences field--field positions were held by foreign-born workers. As these fields continue to grow, the need for foreign-born workers will also continue to grow.

The total number of foreign-born STEM workers overall has doubled since 1990 with female STEM workers taking up larger percentages in all professions. The net effects of these workers is well-documented and has helped keep the U.S. at the top of innovation over the last few decades. According to the report:

Foreign-born STEM workers have made important contributions to the U.S. economy in terms of productivity and innovation. The foreign-born are more likely than the native-born to obtain a patent, and they account for rising shares of U.S. patents in computing, electronics, medical devices, and pharmaceuticals. Twenty-five percent of high-tech companies founded between 1995 and 2005 had at least one immigrant founder, and over 40 percent of companies in the Fortune 500 in 2010 were founded by an immigrant or the child of an immigrant.

Along these trends the Bureau of Labor Statistics has projected STEM growth over around 13% over the period of 2012 to 2022, creating over one million new positions in the STEM and STEM-Plus fields. Without further incentives for U.S. workers to fill these positions or receive the training necessary to meet this demand, it is likely that foreign workers will be needed to fill the positions.

Overall, this bodes well for the U.S. economy. As stated by the AIC:

Research has shown that states and localities that attract more high-skilled foreign workers see faster rates of growth in labor productivity. Furthermore, college-educated workers, whether native- or foreign-born, have a positive effect on local economies and positively affect productivity and average wages. College-educated workers may also increase the quality of amenities in a city, such as better schools, medical facilities, and cultural institutions. Therefore, cities that retain their foreign-born college-educated workers are more attractive to both foreign- and native-born workers, and localities that fail to attract and retain college-educated workers are less attractive.

The positive impacts of foreign-born workers, particularly those in the STEM and STEM-Plus fields, are clear and demonstrable. While efforts should be made to mitigate any losses due to changes in these industries, immigrants provide innovation and development in fields that not only boost the economy but impact our daily lives. With these positive impacts and the continued growth in STEM fields, the U.S. still remains a viable option for foreign-born STEM and STEM-Plus professionals.

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