Report: Immigrant Workers Answer to Ohio, US Labor Shortages

click to enlarge As baby boomers age, demand for health-care support workers is expected to rise substantially by 2030, according to the American Immigration Council. - ADOBE STOCK/F ARMSTRONG PHOTO
Adobe Stock/F Armstrong Photo
As baby boomers age, demand for health-care support workers is expected to rise substantially by 2030, according to the American Immigration Council.

As the country reels with the highest levels of inflation seen since the 1980s, experts say without adding more workers, wage increases could drive prices - and inflation - even higher in Ohio and across the U.S.

While many future jobs will be taken by youths aging into the workforce, research suggests many positions will still go unfilled unless the Buckeye State, and the U.S. as a whole, gains more workers by 2030.

Andrew Lim is the director of research for the nonprofit American Immigration Council. Through analysis of Bureau of Labor Statistics and other data, his organization found immigration policy in Canada and other countries may be the golden ticket.

"The government, in coordination with the provinces in Canada, say, 'What are the jobs that are most in demand? Where do you need these workers?'" said Lim. "And we don't have that in the U.S. We have an immigration system that largely has not been reformed for now three decades. And so it's really not as responsive as other countries have been able to become."

Of the more than 165 million jobs expected to exist in 2030, almost half will be left open by retirees, career changers, or workers who've left the labor market entirely, according to American Immigration Council findings.

Lim said Ohio mirrors much of what's going on nationally, with the added problem that some of the state's major cities have been shrinking since as far back as the 1970s.

Lim added that while COVID restrictions may be mostly a thing of the past, the pandemic's effects on the economy and worker shortage will remain into the future.

"You have this great resignation where people are really looking for better conditions, but also better wages," said Lim. "And this is putting a lot of pressure on employers because now the competition for workers is really, really tight. And there are limits to what employers are able to do without passing those elevated costs up to consumers."

Lim said unlike other parts of the country, Ohio is dealing with more than the effects of the past two years.

"Even before the pandemic," said Lim, "there was a lot of planning that was being done by chambers of commerce, city councils, by regional associations about how do you make Ohio metros attractive, not just to immigrants but to people in general. And so, a stable population at the very least is really important."

Data shows occupations that grew the most between 2019 and 2021 had a large share of immigrants, including health care, transportation, food preparation, construction, and manufacturing.