Orlando, Florida — October 18, 2016 — The American Competitiveness Alliance (ACAlliance), a leader in calling for immigration reform that strengthens our modernizing economy, today released its latest paper on the benefits to the U.S. economy generated by skilled immigrant workers.
The Dean of the Tuck School of Business at Dartmouth, Matthew J. Slaughter presented the ACAlliance paper at a luncheon co-hosted by the Orlando Regional Chamber of Commerce. ACAlliance co-chair Governor Bill Richardson joined Professor Slaughter to discuss the importance of a focus on immigration, particularly within the context of the 2016 presidential election.
Professor Slaughter, who previously served as a Member of the Council of Economic Advisers under President George W. Bush, writes that America’s biggest economic challenge today is sluggish productivity growth.
Based on reports from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, U.S. labor productivity has fallen for three straight quarters in 2016. The ACAlliance paper explores the linkages between the decline in U.S. productivity and the inability of the United States to attract sufficient high-skilled immigrant workers in areas such as science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) due to dated policies.
Despite all the heated political rhetoric, independent research shows that immigrants of all kinds have long helped drive U.S. economic growth. Immigrants accounted for 25% of all new high-technology companies founded over the period 2006 – 2012, accounting for $63 billion in sales. America’s innovation success has long depended on talented immigrants at all levels, punching above their weight and helping to drive U.S. economic growth. Since the 1980s, immigrants have made up 27% of U.S. Nobel Prize winners in chemistry, medicine and physics. Six of the seven U.S. Nobel Prize winners announced this year are immigrants.
In stark contrast to campaign rhetoric, Professor Slaughter’s research and independent studies show that skilled immigrants tend to complement, not substitute for, native born workers in U.S. workers.
A recent study of 219 U.S. metropolitan areas found that more skilled immigrants tend to boost wages of all native-born Americans. The ACAlliance paper points out that based on several independent studies, foreign skilled immigrants hired through a temporary H1-B visa are paid at least the same, if not more, than their native-born U.S. counterparts. High skilled immigrant workers are not displacing immigrant workers. Rather, they help to spur U.S. economic growth and innovation.
A recent report from the Business Roundtable evaluating countries with the best immigration policies to promote economic growth ranked America 9th out of 10 competitor countries.
In 2004, the U.S. Congress imposed an artificial cap of 85,000 on the annual number of H1-B visas available for highly skilled immigrants. In 2015, nearly 233,000 H1-B applications were filed by U.S. firms and more than 240,000 applications were received in 2016. The rejection of 178,000 H1-visa applications translates into 213,000 foregone tech jobs for U.S. workers. A 2016 study by the Chicago Council on Global Affairs showed that the restrictions on foreign-born graduates of U.S. universities working in the United States, costs America $8.3 billion a year in wages and $283 million in state taxes.