Goldman Pushes for Immigration Boost to Increase Labor Force

Decreased immigration has led to increased job openings in the U.S. that cannot be filled, but the gap between available workers and open positions can be reversed, unnamed Goldman Sachs analysts told Yahoo! Finance.

Increasing immigration, they said, is the logical answer.

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Migration into the U.S. decreased significantly in 2020 due to border closings caused by the coronavirus, according to the U.S. Census Bureau. Foreign-born workers comprised 60% of the growth in the labor force between 2010 and 2018, but growth in the foreign-born population fell to around 100,000 per year between 2019 and 2021, census data report. This has resulted in workforce that is 1.6 million people smaller than it would have been without the immigration restrictions, and a population that is 2 million people smaller than it would have been.

Recently, the numbers have begun to reverse, but the Goldman analysts say it is not enough. While Green Card issuance to new arrivals has roughly returned to its pre-pandemic level, and temporary work visas have gotten close to normal levels in just the last few months, immigration would have to continue to swell to make up the difference.

The analysts, citing the obstacles caused by government policies, said that is unlikely: "Immigration rates would need to increase further to make up the shortfall in foreign born workers," they stated. "Immigration policies could make that difficult, as many immigration categories, including skilled and unskilled temporary workers, are limited by numerical caps that only Congress can change. While we would not rule out near-term congressional changes to the caps on lower-skilled workers in particular, broader legislative changes look unlikely."

To boost immigration, the Biden administration could take several measures, the Goldman analysts said. It could reduce its backlog and allow more non-employment visa holders to work, recapture unused visa allocation, and broaden the use of extraordinary authorities, such as raising the refugee cap. These moves would not require approval from Congress.