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Idea of the Day: The Importance of Second-Generation Immigrants to the Workforce

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Immigrants, and particularly their children, will play a critical role in filling the workforce gaps created by the massive Baby Boomer retirements over the next two decades. According to a recent Center for American Progress report, by 2030 nearly 31.5 million, or 38 percent, of the 83 million new workforce entrants will be immigrants and their children. The second generation will account for a majority of workforce growth, as projections show that 12.9 million children of immigrants will enter the workforce by 2030. The report estimates that the share of second-generation immigrants in the workforce will triple, from 6 percent in the 1990s to 17.9 percent by 2030. At the same time, the share of native-born people entering the workforce will continue to drop—from 71.3 percent in the 1990s to 59.2 percent by 2030, as the number of new native-born entrants will not be able to keep pace with the large number of exits.

Research also shows that the children of immigrants make significant social and economic gains that prime them for a more prominent role in the workforce. On average, second-generation immigrants, regardless of their ethno-racial group, outperform their parents in educational attainment, occupational status, and wealth, demonstrating their progress and integration into society. As these projections indicate, the children of immigrants will be an integral part of our future labor force that can secure America’s long-term economic growth.

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To speak with our experts on this topic, please contact:

Print: Katie Peters (economy, education, poverty, Half in Ten Education Fund)
202.741.6285 or kpeters@americanprogress.org

Print: Anne Shoup (foreign policy and national security, energy, LGBT issues, health care, gun-violence prevention)
202.481.7146 or ashoup@americanprogress.org

Print: Crystal Patterson (immigration)
202.478.6350 or cpatterson@americanprogress.org

Print: Madeline Meth (women's issues, Legal Progress, higher education)
202.741.6277 or mmeth@americanprogress.org

Spanish-language and ethnic media: Tanya Arditi
202.741.6258 or tarditi@americanprogress.org

TV: Lindsay Hamilton
202.483.2675 or lhamilton@americanprogress.org

Radio: Chelsea Kiene
202.478.5328 or ckiene@americanprogress.org

 

This is part of a regular column: Idea of the Day

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