Expert: Why the labor market needs more immigrants
While job growth in December disappointed and the unemployment rate got worse, the chief global strategist at JPMorgan Funds warned Friday that the U.S. labor force is running out of “well-qualified” American workers.
“We actually need more immigration,” David Kelly told CNBC’s “Squawk on the Street,” calling into question any policies that restrict skilled immigrants from entering the U.S. to take jobs that can’t be filled by the existing labor pool.
“We need these workers,” he stressed. “We’re almost out of well-qualified native-born workers.”
Kelly said he’s concerned by “signs of further restrictions on immigration in this country,” referring to a bill that was reintroduced in Congress this week to restrict H-1B visas, which allow nonimmigrant foreign workers in specialty fields. Republicans and Donald Trump are pushing to have businesses hire more American-born workers.
Politics aside, Kelly said, “One of the remarkable things about the labor market over the next 10 years is [that] around 85 percent of the new growth in the working-age population is going to have to come from immigrants, not from the native-born population.”
In a government report that lags its monthly employment snapshot, there were 5.5 million job openings as of the last business day of October, according to the most recent JOLTS, or Job Openings and Labor Turnover Survey.
The Labor Department on Friday morning said the U.S. economy added 156,000 nonfarm payrolls in December, while the unemployment rate ticked up to 4.7 percent. Both were overshadowed by a sharp gain in wages.