Does America Have Enough Skilled Workers?


While much of the immigration debate has revolved around the economic impact of low-skilled workers heading north into the United States, the effect of high-skilled workers has been given less attention. But consider this:

1) The unemployment rate for college grads in June was 2 percent, compared with 6.7 percent for those who didn't finish high school and 4.5 percent overall.

2) According to new data from the Labor Department, America's job openings rate stayed constant last month at 2.9 percent, which is, according to economist Robert Brusca at Fact and Opinion Economics, "near its high for this economic expansion, and continues to signal that firms are having difficulty hiring enough qualified workers."

3) According to a new report from the National Federation of Independent Business, 13 percent of surveyed small-business owners said that finding quality labor was a major concern. That number has been slowly moving higher since late 2003. (Their top concern was taxes, at 23 percent.)

4) Wages for workers—not managers—increased by 3.9 percent last month, on a year-over-year basis.

Maybe what all this means is that while low-skilled immigrants provide scant, if any, benefit to the economy, we just might have a need for plenty more higher-skilled workers. It's all about supply and demand.

immigration reform