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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