A Brookings Institution report, and a Washington Post article provide an updated overview of the composition of the immigrant labor force. According to the Brookings report, for the first time the proportion of highly skilled immigrants exceeds that of low skilled immigrants in the United States.
The report cites that 30 percent of the country’s working-age immigrants, without taking into account legal status, have at least a bachelor’s degree (definition of highly skilled), while 28 percent lack a high school diploma (definition of low-skilled). Although the foreign-born population in the United States has increased dramatically in the past 30 years, until 2007 or so, the number of low skilled labor exceeded that of high skilled immigrants. Only after 2007, due to increased numbers of F-1 students and H-1B skilled work visas, has the proportion of skilled immigrants increased.
The report also looks as geographic areas and the highly skilled/low skilled composition for those areas. Generally, coastal cities and established “gateway” metropolitan areas attract more highly skilled workers, while areas near the U.S.-Mexico border attract a higher percentage of low skilled immigrants.
The report will certainly fuel the debate over immigration reform in the U.S. However, even without its political implications, the report provides an interesting analysis of the composition of highly/low skilled immigrants in the United States.