Do We Really Have a “Labor Shortage” in the U.S., or Are We Manufacturing One?

It seems like there are three kinds of jobs in America: Those that Americans won’t do, those that Americans can’t do, and those that there aren’t enough Americans to do.

Perpetually high on the list of jobs for which there is a claimed shortage of workers is nursing. In one of the countless news reports about the “acute shortage” of nurses in the United States, a 2016 Atlantic article notes, “America’s 3 million nurses make up the largest segment of the health-care workforce in the U.S., and nursing is currently one of the fastest-growing occupations in the country. Despite that growth, demand is outpacing supply. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, 1.2 million vacancies will emerge for registered nurses between 2014 and 2022.”

To fill this so-called void, American health care institutions have been turning to foreign nurses. About 15 percent of nurses currently work in the U.S. are foreign born, and the health care industry is constantly clamoring for more.

So, if we are expecting 1.2 million vacancies in the coming years, there must be a good reason. Is it because:

  1. There aren’t enough Americans who are educationally qualified to enter nursing programs?
  2. There aren’t enough qualified Americans who want to be nurses?
  3. Eager, qualified nursing school applicants are being turned away in droves?

Turns out the answer is C. According to CNN, U.S. nursing schools are cutting admissions and rejecting record numbers of qualified applicants. In 2017, nursing schools in the United States rejected 56,000 applicants who met all the qualifications for admission. And, given that the average salary for a nurse practitioner is $97,000 a year, there are likely many, many more qualified Americans who would consider a career in nursing. But rather than expanding the capacity to train nurses in the United States, schools are reducing the number of slots in nursing programs.

The only logical conclusion that can be drawn from these facts is that the health care industry would rather spend money lobbying for more foreign nurses than invest in training Americans to fill these jobs. Until not that long ago, many hospitals had their own nursing training programs but decided to eliminate them as cost-cutting measures.

It would not be a stretch to insinuate that nursing is not the only sector of the U.S. economy in which there is a labor shortage because we have deliberately created one for the purpose of bringing in foreign workers.

About Author


Ira joined the Federation for American Immigration Reform (FAIR) in 1986 with experience as a journalist, professor of journalism, special assistant to Gov. Richard Lamm (Colorado), and press secretary of the House Defense Appropriations Subcommittee. His columns have appeared in National Review, LA Times, NY Times, Washington Post, Newsweek, and more. He is an experienced TV and radio commentator.


  1. avatar

    It is also in the hospitals that are profit centers. Why is it so hard to get a nurse to patient ratio. This is the first thing that should be posted when you go to any hospital

  2. avatar

    My granddaughter did not get into nursing school the first pass. This is despite her magna cum laude in chemistry and biology.

  3. avatar

    No matter the occupation, business will cry a river that they can’t find qualified Americans. The fact is they don’t want to. That’s why there are thousands upon thousands of American tech workers who cannot find jobs in their fields because business wants cheap labor. A lot have to free lance. It’s kind of ironic that two companies from the Democratic utopia of California, self proclaimed champions of the working man, laid off hundreds of tech workers and forced them to train their foreign replacements. Those companies would be Southern California Edison and Disney. The Silicon Valley tech companies are importing foreign workers by the thousands.

    People keep wondering why Trump won. It’s not that complicated. He said we are going to get rid of bad trade deals, put American workers first, and cut immigration to the traditional levels of 50 years ago. The media paid no attention when he got South Korea to rework the trade deal passed under Obama, which like all his “treaties” put us at a disadvantage. Now they are committed to buy set amounts of American products.

    Look at the media praise lavished on Obama because he “opened up Cuba”. Actually all he did was give away everything and get nothing from them. After we restored relations, they doubled the number of dissidents arrested. Trump said nope that doesn’t work. And that is another country that needs to get their own act together. They have let one family rule them for 60 years. Do something about it besides coming here.

  4. avatar

    A relative of mine applied to a 2 year- master’s nursing school. There were 1200 applicants and only 40 spots. And this is a private institution that charges $120,000. Another relative is an undergraduate at a state university, with the goal of becoming a nurse. They also report that the competition to get into nursing is incredibly high. You would think the US government would turn its attention to the dearth of nursing schools. I believe the US as a nation needs to encourage private and public entities to develop programs to train our own citizens to fill needs, whether it’s more nursing school slots, or apprenticeships for specialty manufacturing skills or other occupations.

  5. avatar

    In Panama we have an ID, called a cedula to identify everybody born in the country. I cannot understand why the USA, a country of such great technology cannot have an ID for all of its citizens from the day of birth.

  6. avatar

    A whistleblower in the southern California construction industry says illegal alien workers have “taken over every trade” in the business while driving down wages by an estimated 40 percent. JOHN BINDER

  7. avatar

    Members of Congress broadly oppose a legislative nationwide E-Verify mandate for employers because “they know it will work,” said NumbersUSA’s Rosemary Jenks, explaining why E-Verify is not being pushed in congressional negotiations for an amnesty deal for recipients of the Obama administration’s Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA). Jenks further noted that both parties are beholden to special interests supportive of “mass migration.”

  8. avatar

    Staggering expensive “cheap” Mexican labor did not build this once great nation! Look what it has done to Mexico. It’s all about keeping wages depressed and passing along the true cost of the invasion, their welfare, and crime tidal wave costs to the backs of the American people!

    • avatar
      Patricia Watkins on

      Maybe America should do what some of the wealthy Arab countries do. Provide money to every legal citizen and then let foreign workers in to do all the work for them. Take away their passports until they work off their debt to the employer who paid to bring them in. That is what they do in Kuwait. But foreign workers cannot get government benefits nor ever become a Kuwait citizen. They are just worker bees who serve the queen bee who is a Kuwait citizen. I know that in reality, that would not work well in the U.S., but the fact that liberals in America support open borders and illegal migrants roaming around America doing as they please, taking up housing, getting American jobs, it seems like a good idea to me.