New Americans are business owners and asset holders. New Americans are also the fastest growing sector of the workforce and propel key industries that are vital to our economic future. Labor is a key source of collective power for immigrant and refugee communities and the foundation for economic and social mobility. Barriers facing New Americans can include limited education, limited/low English proficiency; lack of professional networks, computer skills, and targeted supports; predatory lending practices; and, the overwhelming challenge of accessing education, job-training, and advancement opportunities while working multiple “survival” jobs with insufficient pay and unstable schedules. Workers at every level and of any immigration status should be afforded opportunities to advance, treated with dignity, paid fairly, and protected against abuses in the workplace.
We must focus on growing a vibrant and vital economy for all by:
Immigrants comprise 13 percent of the U.S. population but 17 percent of the labor force. Between 2002 and 2012, more than half of the growth in the entire U.S. labor force was due to immigrants. Access to labor markets and opportunities for economic advancement remain among the strongest tools for immigrant integration and benefit to the national economy as a whole. Yet, immigrants are disproportionately employed in lower wage and dangerous jobs. They face particular challenges based on language, their lack of networks, unfamiliarity with the U.S. labor market and opportunities, and
Immigrants, many who arrive with tremendous skills and credentials, are often frozen out of our workforce or unable to work at a level that corresponds to their education. They have to cope with unclear information on career pathways that vary by state and profession. 25 percent of college-educated immigrants are affected by “brain waste,” or
underemployment relative to their skill level.
New Americans contribute to the economy through innovation and entrepreneurship, adding jobs and paying more in taxes than they use in services. Reducing the barriers to their economic integration would strengthen our labor force, increase our tax base, reduce claims on public assistance, and spur innovation and economic growth.
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