As immigration reform passes the Senate in a lopsided vote and heads to the House, here are nine numbers you should know about the contribution of immigrants to the U.S. economy and the need for reform.
America will face a shortage of more than 220,000 workers with STEM degrees by 2018, according to projections from the Department of Education and Georgetown University. Over the long term, we will need to reform our education system to meet this skills gap. But in the immediate term, immigration reform will be critical to addressing this shortage, especially considering that in many STEM fields, more than half of all Ph.D. students at U.S. universities are foreign-born. And immigrants in these fields create additional job opportunities for Americans because they often are in fields that create new products and innovations and drive exports.
It took one week to reach the 65,000 cap on H-1B visas granted this year. Forget the fact that every H-1B visa holder creates an additional five American jobs, according to analysis from the National Foundation for American Policy. The U.S. told these job creators to look elsewhere and wait for next year. The current legislation being debated will raise this cap to 110,000 per year, and increase in future years based on demand.
40% of Fortune 500 companies were founded by immigrants or their children, according to a report from the Partnership for a New American Economy. Some of America’s most iconic brands and biggest job creators – from Apple to Google to General Electric to McDonalds – were founded by new Americans. These Fortune 500 companies generate more than $4 trillion in annual revenues and employ millions of people in America and around the world.
The U.S. Travel Association estimates that the U.S. has lost 78 million foreign tourists over the past decade, partly because of hurdles that create costly and lengthy wait times for potential visitors to get visas. This is a huge economic loss to America, considering the average tourists from China or India spend more than $6,000 during their visit. In fact, the U.S. has lost an estimated $606 billion in potential revenue from tourism, enough to fuel 500,000 jobs annually.
Chile is offering immigrant entrepreneurs $40,000 to start their companies in the country. Immigrants are more than twice as likely to start a business as domestic-born. But while Chile and other countries around the world, including China, Canada and Australia, are offering incentives to attract entrepreneurs and innovators, America is adding additional hurdles for these job creators.
Recent analysis from the Americas Society/Council of the Americas and the Partnership for a New American Economy found that 40 million immigrants have created $3.7 trillion in housing wealth. The purchasing power of immigrants has helped drive housing demand, particularly in emerging communities.
A report by the U.S. Chamber of Commerce found that one in three businesses would have to close or scale back operations if they couldn’t hire workers through temporary visas. Immigrants fill vital roles that are seasonal or temporary, positively affecting a number of America’s industries, including construction, agriculture, and tourism.
The Congressional Budget Office estimates that immigration reform will reduce the federal deficit by $897 billion over the next two decades. It turns out that bringing young, talented, hard-working individuals who complement your domestic labor force into the economy is good fiscal policy. Who knew?
That’s the main switchboard for the House. Immigration-reform legislation passed the Senate with bipartisan support on Thursday. As the debate heads to the House, it’s important that members of Congress hear from their constituents on this issue.