The U.S. labor force will shrink, and America risks stagnation and declining living standards without immigrants, according to new research. Immigrants can boost the U.S. working-age population and offset America’s falling birthrate and the retirement of Baby Boomers. U.S. elected officials must decide whether to change immigration laws and policies to bolster America’s labor force and prevent decline.

A Shrinking Labor Force?

“Without continued net inflows of immigrants, the U.S. working-age population will shrink over the next two decades and by 2040, the United States will have over 6 million fewer working-age people than in 2022,” concluded a study by economist and University of North Florida Professor Madeline Zavodny for the National Foundation for American Policy (NFAP). “Announcements of high-profile layoffs and concerns about the impact of artificial intelligence (AI) obscure America’s continuing need for additional workers at the top and bottom of the skill distribution. International migration is the only potential source of growth in the U.S. working-age population in the coming years.”


Analyzing data from the Current Population Survey and the Job Openings and Labor Turnover Survey, Zavodny found that international migrants represented the only source of growth in the U.S. working-age population in 2021 and 2022. Without an increase among the foreign born, the total working-age population in the United have declined by nearly 0.5% in 2021 and by 0.03% in 2022.


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