From leftist politicians to libertarian think tanks, it’s conventional wisdom that America requires evermore immigrants to keep its economy going and to offset the aging of the American population. President Trump is on board, now declaring, “I need people coming in.”
Not so fast.
Though the U.S. is on track to receive 75 million foreign arrivals by 2060, new research shows that their presence will do little to stop the country from aging. Turns out that immigrants get old like the rest of us.
“Under current census projections, the working-age (16-64) share of the population in 2060 would be 59 percent. It would still be 58 percent in a population-stabilization scenario where we cut immigration by two-thirds,” reports Steven Camarota and Karen Zeigler of the Center for Immigration Studies.
Under a zero-immigration policy, there would be 89.8 million people 65 and older in 2060. But assuming current levels of immigration continue, there will be94.7 million people 65 and older in 2060, according to CIS models. (This does not count illegal aliens, who, by the way, are staying in this country for longer periods.)
Immigration enthusiasts have put America on a highly inefficient treadmill that demands an accelerating influx of foreign arrivals.
According to CIS, immigration levels would have to be five times the current rate to roughly preserve the working-age share of the population. This would produce a total U.S. population in 2060 of 706 million — more than doubling today’s head count, and boosting the share of foreign-born residents to an unprecedented 36.4 percent.
Camarota’s report recommends better alternatives to such a socially disruptive and environmentally destructive trajectory.
Raising the retirement age two years. Even with zero net immigration, this would have about the same impact on the working-age share or ratio of workers to retirees in 2060 as the level of net immigration projected by the Census Bureau.
Increasing the share of working-age people who are actually employed. The present labor force participation rate for working age adults is 63.2 percent, low by historic standards. Returning to a more typical 75 percent rate would have the same effect as vastly higher immigration levels.
FAIR has repeatedly debunked the notion that the U.S. must rely on massive infusions of foreign labor. From agriculture to nursing to technology reputed shortages of workers are, in fact, partly manufactured by bottom-feeding employers pushing Americans out of jobs.
Meantime, America’s foreign-labor lobby is working overtime. The Migration Policy Institute this week unhelpfully suggested, “Amid U.S. demand for higher skills and education, credentialing ‘immigrant-origin’ adult workers could be key.”
Libertarians contend that large-scale population growth creates more opportunities for businesses, workers and consumers. The Left leverages this mantra for perceived political gain. Naturally, corporatist conservatives are buying in, too.
Yet the bigger-is-better agenda fails to address critical – and growing — concerns about the size, density and cohesion of our population while ignoring (or embracing) steep fiscal and environmental costs.
Ultimately, it’s a lose-lose proposition.
As Camarota notes, “The debate should not be whether [immigration]makes for a much larger population — it does. The debate should also not be whether it has a large impact on increasing the working-age share of the population or the ratio of workers to retirees — it does not.”