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[Report] How Has Demand in Sectors Dependent on Specialty Skills Changed Due to Covid-19?

Immigration White Papers

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1 Executive Summary The Covid-19 pandemic has altered nearly all aspects of our lives, from the way we work, to where we work. While these changes seem obvious at an individual level, what the broader impacts of the pandemic have been and will be as the economy recovers is less clear. Unlike past recessions, the Covid-19 recession hit unevenly. While many businesses were shuttered due to lockdowns, resulting in record job losses, many others continued to operate or even grew. The latest data on demand for foreign labor, unemployment, and job openings, provides more insight on this situation. It shows that despite the record high unemployment numbers, the impact of the Covid pandemic was overwhelmingly concentrated in several industries, such as food service, hotels, and entertainment. Many workers outside of these sectors were either considered "essential" or were able to work remotely, effectively giving them more job security. As such, these industries' demand for workers continued relatively unabated. Data from Labor Certification Applications (LCAs) for foreign skilled workers shows that employers of computer-related or professional service workers continued to seek permission to hire foreign workers through the H-1B visa program. Their motivation to do so even during the worst of the pandemic is evidenced by unemployment data showing that the labor market at the top end of the skill spectrum remains extremely tight. This signals that there are not enough appropriately skilled workers in the U.S. to meet the demand of employers. Even more telling, the unemployment rate for computer-related workers is now lower, and the overall number of employed computer-related workers is now higher than at the start of the pandemic in March 2020. Real-time data on online job openings rounds out this picture, showing that hiring for other kinds of workers, such as those in shipping, freight, and healthcare has blossomed as the pandemic has changed consumer demands for home delivery and increased the need for healthcare services. Overall, our analysis finds that the pandemic has had a limited negative effect on the growth of industries that often rely on high-skilled foreign workers due to chronic labor shortages. However, while many businesses have sought to expand, continued travel restrictions on top of an outdated immigration system may in fact prolong and exacerbate the shortage of high-skilled workers. This ultimately runs counter to the goal of a speedy economic recovery. Failure to enable employers to fill critical workforce gaps hampers their ability to fulfill their economic potential, stymieing economic growth nationwide. These findings support the argument that more responsive employment-based immigration policies may help the U.S. economy bounce back faster and more robustly from the Covid-19 pandemic. JUNE 2021 Covid-19's Impact on the American Economy How Has Demand in Sectors Dependent on Specialty Skills Changed Due to Covid-19? "More responsive employment- based immigration policies may help the U.S. economy bounce back faster and more robustly from the Covid-19 pandemic"

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