At the start of the year, Texas- based recruitment website Indeed.com published a report about the most popular jobs among immigrants in the United States. Drawing on census data covering employment status, occupation, birthplace and more, the report compared the total number of immigrants with those who arrived in the last five years and came up with contrasting conclusions.
Overall, the sectors with the highest proportion of migrant workers were farming, fishing and forestry (46%), building and maintenance (35%) and construction (28%). The type of jobs within these sectors were mostly menial and didn’t require much in the way of education: graders and sorters of agricultural products (65%), personal appearance workers such as barbers and pedicurists (62%) and plasterers (61%) were the top three.
However, the picture changes when only considering immigrants who have arrived in the US in the last five years. To start with, they came from different countries: 45% came from Asia (particularly India, China and the Philippines) compared to 30% overall, while Latin Americans accounted for 33% against 50% overall. Recent immigrants were also more qualified, with nearly half over the age of 25 holding a degree as opposed to 27% of those who arrived before 2005 (and 31% of Americans incidentally).
As you might expect, these demographic differences were reflected in the sectors immigrants work in and their types of jobs. Farming, fishing and forestry was still the most popular sector, but it was closely followed by computer and mathematical, and life, physical and social sciences. There was an even bigger difference in the types of jobs: nearly 10% of recent immigrants worked as medical or other life scientists (98% degree- educated), just over 9% were software developers (83% degree- educated), 8.6% were employed as physical scientists (99% degree- educated), while 7.1% were economists or markets researchers (99% degree- educated). Personal appearance workers came fourth at 6.7% (only 11% degree- educated).
These conclusions are interesting because they correspond with the benefits offered by immigrants to their host economy, as we discussed in this blog post. Overall, immigrants are expanding the labour market and consequently boosting economic growth in the US. There’s also a good chance they’re helping to plug gaps in the work force in certain sectors where American workers are in short supply. Meanwhile, recent immigrants, thanks to their university education, are introducing new technical skills into the country, which drives economic growth through innovation.