Prosperity Watch (Issue 75, No. 2): Immigrants projected to drive labor force growth for years to come

June 12, 2017

A recent report by the Pew Research Center points to the central role that immigrants and children of immigrants will play in growing our labor force and economy in the years to come. The report outlines that immigrants, and children of immigrants, are projected to be the primary drivers of growth in the working-age population through 2035. Specifically, the number of working age immigrants in the U.S. is projected to rise from 33.9 million in 2015 to 38.5 million by 2035. 

North Carolinians have also witnessed growth in the immigrant community in our state over the past two decades. North Carolina’s foreign-born population grew by 42 percent between 2005 and 2015. As of 2015, immigrants make up 7.7 percent of the total state population. In regards to our state’s immigrant labor force, as of 2015, 84.2 percent of the immigrant population in our state is between the ages of 18 and 64.  From 2000 to 2015, North Carolina’s immigrant population grew steadily, following the same pattern that is highlighted in the Pew Research Center report.

The report also highlights the important contributions that children of immigrants will have in growing the labor force. According to the report, children of immigrants in the U.S. are projected to grow from 11.1 million in 2015 to 24.6 million in 2035. Moreover, children of U.S.-born parents are projected to decline by 8.2 million between 2015 and 2035, and also decline as a share of the working-age population. In North Carolina, 19 percent of children under the age of 18 have one or more foreign-born parent as of 2015. In 2000, only 9.1 percent of children under the age of 18 had one or more foreign-born parent.

Given that our state’s immigrant labor force is set to follow the national pattern, it is clear that immigrants and their children will continue to be the key to securing a thriving economy in our state in the years to come.  

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