Immigration Will Save the American Economy, So Embrace It

Source: Thinkstock

Source: Thinkstock

Immigration is a hot topic on Capitol Hill these days, but no matter which way the chips end up falling in terms of any kind of reform to the system, Americans had better get used to a constant influx of new neighbors.

In fact, the future of the American economy depends on a constant stream of immigrants, mostly from Latin America. At least that’s what a recent study from IHS has concluded, projecting that Hispanic immigrants in particular are set to play a major role in the future economic outlook of the United States.

The key takeaway from the IHS study is that individuals of Hispanic background are anticipated to encompass up to 75% of new job growth over the next two decades. “The Hispanic population will play an increasingly significant role in future U.S. employment growth, accounting for more than 40 percent of growth in the next five years and more than 75 percent between 2020 and 2034 – an increase of 11 million jobs out of an economy-wide gain of 14 million,” IHS wrote in a press release.

The data IHS takes into account was provided by the U.S. Census Bureau, which projects that Hispanic employment growth will continue to grow in coming years while growth of the population of non-Hispanic workers will decline to near zero. In all, Hispanics will make up roughly 23% of the American workforce by 2034. That’s up from 16% in 2014.

“The Hispanic population is a younger and faster growing segment of the population, while trends in the non-Hispanic population are heavily influenced by the aging baby-boomer generation that is moving into retirement,” said James Gillula, IHS economist and the study’s lead author. “The Hispanic population will play an increasingly significant role in future U.S. employment growth.”

While it may not be all that surprising to most people that the Hispanic population is set to grow, the amount of slack, economically speaking, that they will end up shouldering is a bit surprising. But, as the IHS study points out, the Baby Boomer generation is headed for the door, and there is a need for an offsetting force to step in. It looks as though Latin Americans are due to be that force.

Immigration has been an extremely divisive topic among Americans, and there are no clear solutions to the problems presented by the current immigration system. While policymakers continue to punt back and forth on reform bills, the immigrant population is swelling, and there is no indication that it will slow down.

But regardless of how native U.S. citizens feel about the increasing Latino population, it looks obvious that the future of America’s long-term economic health will actually depend on them. Not only will an increasing immigrant population help shoulder some of America’s economic burden in coming decades, there is evidence that they could help spur wage growth and increase job opportunities as well. Specifically, the Center for American Progress says that when the labor pool expands, many businesses respond by actually expanding their operations. That means additional jobs, and increased wages for many employees. Also, since immigrant populations typically hold differing skill sets from native populations, there are also new market opportunities and chances for entrepreneurs to put those skills to work by opening new enterprises.

The biggest task ahead of policymakers is figuring out a way to streamline the process of awarding citizenship in order to effectively absorb the new population. If America is going to lean on the Latino community to continue growing economically, then the country are going to need an immigration system that actually works, to do things like doll out Social Security numbers, and ensure that the tax base grows along with the population.

That process, however, has been one of many things that have been held up in the gridlock caused by differences between Congressional Republicans, Democrats, and President Barack Obama.

Follow Sam on Twitter @Sliceofginger

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