NEW YORK – Migration to rich countries is at record levels, and some labor-shortage nations are overcoming political opposition to further opening their borders in hopes of filling jobs and reducing inflation, The Wall Street Journal has reported.
Government actions to attract foreign nationals for skilled and unskilled jobs have spread from Germany to Japan and include countries with longstanding immigration restrictions and some with populist opposition to foreign workers.
The United States remains an outlier. Lakhs of migrant workers have arrived through clandestine channels, but the country does not openly welcome them despite a tight labor market. According to economists and some US officials, this hesitation comes with economic costs, including persistent labor shortages and wage inflation.
Unemployment is at a record low of 4.8% in the 38 largely wealthy countries that make up the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD). These and other countries report a long list of job openings, from truck drivers to miners.
In addition to being necessary to meet labor shortages brought on by the pandemic, Western economists and officials say migrant workers are in demand to fill the void left by retiring baby boomers and dwindling populations. “The labor force in the richest countries is hollowing out,” said Michael A. Clemens, professor of economics at George Mason University.
According to United Nations estimates, the working-age population in Europe and North America is expected to decline from 730 million to 680 million over the next 20 years. Places like South Korea and Taiwan could see the workforce shrink by more than half in the next few decades. Meanwhile, the working-age population in sub-Saharan Africa will increase by 700 million by 2050, UN projections show; In Latin America and the Caribbean, the United Nations projected an increase of 40 million by the middle of the century.
For many rich countries, it is hard to resist moving surplus labor abroad. The global job imbalance is, in fact, driving foreign workers into the open arms of the nations that need them.
About 5 million more people moved to richer countries than last year. The Wall Street Journal examined 10 countries that received the most emigration, including the US, Germany, the UK, Canada, Australia and Spain. Migration experts say this is the highest number ever.
Germany is rewriting immigration laws to attract more college graduates and blue-collar workers under a new points-based system. Points will be awarded based on age – younger people get more – education, work experience and knowledge of the German language. Canada announced plans late last year to welcome about 1.5 million more immigrants by 2025.
Spain last year changed its laws to allow more foreign workers from outside the European Union to fill working-class jobs left vacant by a shrinking working-age population. Spain’s Minister of Inclusion, Social Security and Migration, José Luis Escrivá Belmonte, estimated that his country would need to incorporate 300,000 foreign workers a year to keep the economy running and support the national pension system.
Opponents in many countries have warned that citizens are losing their jobs to strangers willing to work for less money. Some say the costs of providing health care, education and other public services to newcomers outweigh the economic benefits, especially for low-skilled workers who pay little in taxes.
More jobs, higher wages
The United States hasn’t had any significant immigration reform in 33 years, and the last serious attempt in Congress dates back almost 20 years.
Despite restrictive immigration policies, immigrant job seekers in the US are finding work faster and at higher wages than at any time in recent history. The director of the US Border Patrol tweeted that over the past 10 days, tens of thousands of people who entered the US illegally from Mexico have been arrested and detained, while about 20,000 people have been detected through various types of surveillance but not apprehended. Is.
In the US, the range of H-1B visas available to highly skilled workers has changed little since 1990. For the past 15 years, presidential administrations have cracked down on illegal border crossers without creating new avenues for legal immigration, which has become all the more urgent. The debate about immigration and labor shortages, said Giovanni Peri, chair of the economics department at the University of California, Davis, where he directs the Center on Global Migration, whose recent research supports more immigration.
Labor shortages are fueling inflation in rich countries, where employers, competing for workers, are raising wages to hire and keep them.
The US and other countries are divided on how to limit illegal immigration while maintaining a path for the flow of potential workers to various industries. According to a recent Gallup poll, a plurality of Americans believe that the United States should admit fewer immigrants.
Matthias Senn, a butcher in Germany’s wealthy Black Forest region, posted job ads in newspapers and online that four out of 10 workers were preparing to retire. “There was no interest,” he said. “None”.
Last year, Sunny hired an intern from India, taking advantage of a new law that allows companies to hire unskilled people from outside the EU. Local trade unions are helping hundreds more workers immigrate from India.
Herbert Brucker, director of migration research at the Institute for Employment Research, a federal agency, said Germany needs to add about half a million immigrants each year over the next few decades as the baby boomer era ends.
Even after Britain leaves the EU, a record half a million new immigrants were added in the year ending June 2022, making it more difficult for EU citizens to obtain visas.