NCPA - National Center for Policy Analysis

High-Tech U.S. Economy Gets Unskilled Immigrants

August 17, 1999

More than three out of 10 immigrants who come to the U.S. each year have no skills and little or no education. America is recruiting workers "for jobs which do not exist, or exist only at the lowest wages," according to the Hudson Institute. And skill requirements will only escalate.

  • Economists predict that soon 90 percent of all available jobs will require at least a high school diploma.
  • But an average of 75.4 percent of immigrants from Mexico, El Salvador and Guatemala from 1980 to 1990 lacked a high school diploma -- with only 4.6 percent holding a college degree or more.
  • Economists say that 35 percent of the roughly nine million immigrants who have arrived since 1990 have less than a high school education.
  • Many of them are by U.S. standards now mired in poverty and are expanding the ranks of the working poor, economists report.

Georges Vernez, head of the Center for Research on Immigration Policy at the Rand Corp., says that in 1970 there were 32 million jobs for those lacking a high school diploma. But today there are only 19 million such jobs available.

The economy has added 12 million jobs in the 1990s. But only 4 percent have been filled by workers with fewer than 12 years of education. Seventy percent were filled by workers with at least some college.

Source: August Gribben, "Land of Opportunity, But Nor for All," Washington Times, August 15, 1999.


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