The Economic Case for Raising Immigration Levels

Business, National News

In a new policy brief, the Committee for Economic Development of The Conference Board (CED) details major benefits of raising U.S. immigration levels. The Power of More Foreign-Born Workers identifies the potential economic and workforce benefits of increasing the number of new immigrants based on their human capital value, saving the U.S. up to $314 billion of human investment.

As the report highlights, low working-age population growth severely constrains future growth prospects of the U.S. economy. Increased immigration alone directly addresses the problem of fewer skilled workers contributing to the U.S. economy. Sound policy can help boost the quality and quantity of available workers while ensuring increased immigration broadens rather than diminishes opportunities for native-born workers.

To achieve greater economic prosperity and address labor shortages, CED recommends:

  • Admitting more immigrants between the ages of 18 and 35. Ready-to-work immigrants who enter the U.S. have already benefited from education and child-rearing spending that would cost more than $300 billion if obtained in the U.S.
  • Giving states flexibility to allow immigrants who meet their labor needs. Policies modeled on Canada’s Provincial Nominee Program could help lead to a geographic distribution of new immigrants that better supports the U.S. labor market.
  • Improving H-1B visa criteria to admit more workers in occupations with labor shortages.The current U.S. immigration system does not adequately consider future labor shortage risks. Immigrants in computer-related occupations, where there is currently lower risk of labor shortages, dominate H-1B admissions. In contrast, occupations requiring health services or statistical and mathematical analysis face labor shortages that will continue to grow if left unaddressed.

Economic growth depends on the quality and quantity of available human capital, along with technological improvements that leverage both forms of capital. Policymakers should focus on how higher levels of immigration can provide a greater value of human capital into the U.S. economy. National policies that admit more immigrants, especially those with high levels of education and skills that match likely future labor shortages, will boost future economic growth.

View the new CED policy brief, The Power of More Foreign-Born Workers: How Raising Immigration Levels Can Boost US Economic Growthhere.

About the Committee for Economic Development:
Founded in 1942, the Committee for Economic Development of The Conference Board (CED) is a nonprofit, nonpartisan, business–led public policy organization that delivers well–researched analysis and reasoned solutions to our nation’s most critical issues. CED’s work is grounded on seven core principles: sustainable capitalism, long–term economic growth, efficient fiscal and regulatory policy, competitive and open markets, a globally competitive workforce, equal economic opportunity, and nonpartisanship in the nation’s interest. Learn more at


SOURCE Committee for Economic Development

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