American employers are desperate for workers. Job openings rose to 9.3 million by April 2021, which is, according to Forbes, a wholly unprecedented surge. One of the primary ways to ease the labor crisis is through immigration; yet, controls imposed by successive administrations have made that a tougher task than it seems on the face of it, never mind the controversial nature of the immigration debate. However, with new easing, employers are starting to find the workers they need.
A key area of migrant labor for the US is the h-2b visa. Largely concerning non-agricultural workers, there is also an established h-2b visa to green card citizenship pathway granted to those migrants who worked in the country. Under Trump and Biden, h-2b visas have been limited; however, SHRM has highlighted a new return scheme that will allow employers to apply for h-2b workers to return in addition to current cap levels. This will help to ease the pressure on industries crying for summer labor without inflating the number of new arrivals to the USA.
The demand for farmers is great
Agriculture is another area demanding more labor. USA Today has noted huge worker shortages in farms across Nebraska and other key agricultural states. These states are crucial and act as the nation’s bread-basket; furthermore, agricultural work is one of the primary industries targeted for exploitative illegal migrant labor, where the lack of legal protections can create situations akin to human trafficking and slavery. An expansion of agricultural permits will help to address the shortage.
Good news is on the horizon for the US labor market. Reuters reports that unemployment has fallen 0.5% into July; a 16-month low. This seems to come at a time when migrant labor has increased. The impact of migrant labor is not a zero-sum game for American workers; it helps businesses to stay open and thrive, ensuring jobs are there for when the season is over and for when American workers return from illness. It’s an essential link in the modern labor force picture that cannot be easily dispensed with.
Immigration is a controversial issue without one right answer. However, for the modern American labor market, it seems fairly straightforward. Utilizing foreign workers to keep the businesses and industries of today running will propel the country forward in the short-term, and help to ensure the recovery is a stable one.