Immigrants are way more likely to work important morning, evening, and weekend shifts, new research finds
America is a melting pot, especially after five.
‘Hamilton’ creator Lin-Manuel Miranda is raising money for the “Immigrants: We Get the Job Done Coalition” — a group of 12 nonprofit organizations that support immigrants, refugees, and asylees — with a new sweepstakes. If you donate to the organization today, you’ll be entered to win free tickets to Hamilton in Los Angeles, and some cool Hamilton swag.
And new research shows that these donations won’t just help immigrants: They’ll likely help the U.S. economy at large.
In 2014, immigrants made up 17% of the U.S. workforce, according to Pew. Just over 12%, or about 19.6 million workers, were authorized to work in the U.S., while the remaining 5% (8 million) were undocumented. And they keep coming–the share of authorized immigrants in the U.S. workforce grew by 3% between 1995 and 2014, while that of undocumented immigrants saw a 2% increase.
This growth is not without pushback. The United States currently accepts 675,000 permanent immigrants each year, with exceptions for close family members and refugees, which are determined separately (and which President Trump is trying to curb). There were also, as of 2015, 11 million undocumented immigrants in the U.S. The Trump administration has been working to chip away at that number, making unprecedented use of “expedited removal” (the process of deportation without a trial) and pushing legislation promoting mandatory minimum sentences for re-enterers and cracking down on sanctuary cities (cities that shelter undocumented immigrants).
But new data show that these restrictions could actually hurt America’s economy. Immigrants are, on average, 15.7% more likely than U.S.-born workers to work evening and overnight shifts, according to a new study from the New American Economy. This is true in both low and high-skilled jobs–so doctors, professors, scientists, and business managers are doing it too.
And immigrants play a pivotal role in the American workforce. There are a handful of jobs in which immigrants make up the majority of employees, including beauty technicians, farm workers, masons, and sewing machine operators, none of which entail traditional nine-to-five work.
What’s more, a number of industries, such as meatpacking, bakery, and dairy production facilities, are up and running around the clock, and require productive, flexible workers to succeed. These occupations rank in the top 10 foreign-born occupations in the U.S., with agricultural workers encompassing 2.5% of the immigrant workforce, and production workers 2.2%. Many employers in these fields, the study notes, would have trouble staffing their overnight and early-morning shifts, hindering their expansion and ability to create jobs, were it not for the availability of immigrant employees willing to work them.
Why are immigrants working these overnight and early morning shifts? Hamad Bengabsia, who emigrated from Tunisia in 1993 and is now a Vice President in the CBS Tax Department, President of the North Hudson Islamic Educational Center, and a member of the Board of Directors of Islamic Relief USA, suggests that most immigrants have greater financial obligations. “Any immigrant would need to support themselves here, and usually they need to support their family overseas in their home country,” he told Moneyish. “That pressure will lead them to put extra work in…I see this with almost every single immigrant.”
Additionally, Bengabsia notes, circumstances in immigrants’ home countries may instill a greater drive. “Usually when immigrating to the states, whether it’s for professional or labor jobs, the opportunities in our home countries usually are not that much,” he explained. “Sometimes, even if you work hard, the financial reward is not that much. So when people come here, usually they are really eager to work, when they find that working hard really pays off.”
What’s more, experts say immigrants play a pivotal role in the future of the American workforce. “One important piece of future job creation…should involve ensuring that key sectors of our economy have the staff they need around the clock,” the study notes. “As this report demonstrates, immigrants play an important role in making that goal a reality.”
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