How does immigration affect the workplace?

Immigration policy is a hot topic nearly every election year, and the debate often boils down to the impact of immigrants on the economy. Politics aside, undocumented immigrants alone pay about $11.6 billion a year in taxes.

According to the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine, immigrants are “among the strongest fiscal and economic contributors to the U.S.” The researchers say second-generation immigrants contribute about $1,700 per person per year; third-generation contributes about $1,300 per year on average.

With a wealth of immigrant workers, how does immigration affect the workplace? For many employers, immigration is a source of labor that can spur growth in their industries.

What can immigrants do for your economy?

As long as immigrants continue to come to America, immigration lawyer Justin Burton says, they will boost the economy on multiple fronts. “Whether skilled or unskilled, educated or not, these are people who have nothing to lose and a strong desire to gain,” Burton says.

They are not only supporting the agricultural, food service, and retail industries. Millions of undocumented workers have overstayed their work or student visas, and many of them have science, technology, engineering, and mathematics skills. They are waiting for the legal right to jump back into workforce, “and use their skills to innovate, develop, and start new businesses,” he said.

According to the Kauffman Foundation, an entrepreneur-support organization, highly skilled immigrant entrepreneurs could add potentially millions of jobs — mostly in the high-tech and engineering fields. But new entrepreneurs do not succeed in a vacuum.

Banks, investment companies, real estate agents, marketing and PR firms can provide start-ups with support — everything from investment capital to a storefront to computer hardware. This, too, may mean expanded growth opportunities for established companies.

Opportunities for strategic partnerships

Businesses that offer services and products to start-ups may consider how immigration affects their workplace by leveraging new opportunities with immigrant labor. For example, a high-tech start-up may need manufacturing capabilities, a sales force, or product development assistance. Another new company might need a fleet of trucks, raw materials, or advertising services.

Immigrant-owned companies may fill those needs. But to help those companies get off the ground, current businesses can work with local small business groups or community lenders to create strategic partnerships. Such symbiotic relationships can benefit both businesses.

So how does immigration affect the workplace? Whether it’s the creation of new businesses, opportunities for strategic partnerships, or an expanding hiring pool for existing companies, the immigrant economy impacts both high-tech and low-tech employers. Here’s a look at some of the industries that are impacted:

High-tech/high-skilled workers:

  • IT staffing, including computer coding, app development, hardware and software development, “Smart” technology, database oversight and programming
  • Engineering for construction, manufacturing, defense and infrastructure
  • Research and development for pharmaceutical companies
  • Healthcare staffing, including researchers, physicians, skilled nurses
  • General scientific research in physics, aerospace, biochemistry and other disciplines
  • Business-administration hiring, including companies that oversee payroll, visa tracking, business loans, health insurance and staffing

Low-tech/low-skilled workers:

  • Companies in food services
  • Retail-oriented small businesses such as florists, bakeries, groceries, gift shops
  • Wholesale suppliers who service small retailers
  • Service companies that provide cleaning, babysitting, entertainment and other such assistance
  • Healthcare, including lab technicians, aides, medical assistants
  • Agriculture jobs, including everything from landscaping to farming

Everybody knows that the United States was built by immigrants, but not everybody knows how immigration affects the workplace. With 40 percent of Fortune 500 companies having been founded by immigrants or their children, the future of the immigrant economy looks bright.

How does immigration affect the workplace at your company? Get answers — and recruitment tips — from Monster

In the immigrant economy, it’s about workers who are looking to use their various skills and talents. The key is knowing how to find them. With expert recruiting and hiring tools, Monster Hiring Solutions can dial your company into the job market and help you find the driven employees you need.