U.S. Census reveals number of immigrant workers has dropped by 100,000 since 2017
A considerable reduction of working-age immigration to Oregon and elsewhere in the U.S.in the last few years has contributed to a labor shortage, research shows. Oregon immigrants are about one-third fewer than in the previous two decades, reported The Oregonian.
Josh Lehner of the Oregon Office of Economic Analysis compiled statistics from U.S. Census data that shows that about 200,000 immigrant workers between the ages of 25 and 54 are in the state. The corresponding number in 2017 was about 300,000.
About 80% of immigrants in that prime age range have historically been employed. The reduction has a substantial impact on the labor force, the April 17 story noted.
“With around 100,000 job vacancies today in Oregon, it sure seems like business could use more labor to adequately staff and grow their operations,” Lehner wrote in his analysis.
Other states have experienced a similar decline. Immigrants numbered about one million nationwide annually in 2015 and 2016, but that number dropped to about 200,000 in 2021, according to the article.
The pandemic played a major part in the decline of immigration in 2020 and 2021, but the reduction was already evident in 2017 for both Oregon and for the country as a whole. The falloff coincided with restrictive immigration policies imposed by the then Trump administration, reported The Oregonian.
To date, the Biden administration has not altered or reversed many of those policies and there is no national agreement as to how to manage illegal immigration at the border with Mexico. No consensus been achieved on a standard for how many immigrants should be allowed into the country each year.
There is no doubt that the drop in immigration has severely affected the labor market, said the article. Lehner observes that one out of every seven Oregon workers was born outside of the United States. The jobs that foreign-born workers typically hold are mostly in the agriculture, factory and hospitality fields, which are also the sectors with the tighter labor markets in the last few months, said the article.
“Overall, every single industry has foreign-born workers,” Lehner wrote in his analysis. “No industry is likely immune to the slowdown in international migration or outright decline in available workers.”