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Immigrant Contribution: $7 Trillion Boost to Economy, Eases Healthcare Worker Shortages

WASHINGTON, DC – Immigration remains a contentious issue, but amidst the debates lie crucial economic considerations. Recently, the Congressional Budget Office (CBO) delved into the economic impacts of immigration, shedding light on its potential benefits. In a discussion between Marketplace senior economics contributor Chris Farrell and “Marketplace Morning Report” host David Brancaccio, the significance of immigrants in filling vital job roles, particularly in the healthcare sector, emerged as a focal point.

Farrell highlighted the CBO’s projections, indicating that immigrants are poised to contribute $7 trillion to the gross domestic product (GDP) over the next decade, surpassing previous estimates. Additionally, federal tax revenues are expected to exceed prior projections by $1 trillion. These figures underscore the substantial economic role immigrants play in driving growth and revenue generation.

The healthcare industry stands out as a significant beneficiary of immigrant labor. With a current and projected shortage of doctors and nurses, immigrants have become indispensable in filling these critical roles. Nearly 2.8 million immigrants were employed in healthcare occupations in 2021, constituting approximately 18% of the workforce in this sector. This reliance on immigrant healthcare workers is expected to grow further, fueled by factors such as low fertility rates and an aging population.

Foreign-born physicians and surgeons, in particular, play a pivotal role in addressing healthcare workforce shortages. They represent 26% of these professional occupations nationwide, with states like New Jersey, Florida, and New York heavily relying on their expertise. Even in states with lower immigrant populations, such as North Dakota, foreign-born healthcare professionals contribute significantly to meeting healthcare demands.

Dean Joshua Wynne of the University of North Dakota School of Medicine and Health Sciences emphasized the vital role played by foreign-born physicians in filling primary care positions in states like North Dakota. Despite concerns about competition for jobs, studies indicate that the influx of skilled immigrants into the healthcare sector does not negatively impact native-born job seekers. Efforts to attract foreign healthcare professionals have coincided with increased training and retention of domestic medical graduates.

Overall, the data underscores the symbiotic relationship between immigration and economic growth, particularly in addressing critical labor shortages in sectors like healthcare. While debates surrounding immigration policy continue, the economic imperative of harnessing the talents of immigrants for the benefit of society and the economy remains clear.

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