How to make Texas great? Import lots of talent from other countries and states
All the bluster about a border wall can overwhelm an important truth: Texas needs immigrants, and lots of ’em.
They’re a key reason the state’s population has grown twice as fast as the nation’s, and the Texas economy has become a juggernaut. From 2000 to 2017, immigrants filled 40 percent of new jobs in Texas, according to a recent report by researchers at the Federal Reserve Bank of Dallas.
Maybe it’s not surprising that immigrants account for over half the workers in construction, landscaping and housekeeping. But they also make up a major share of Texas’ medical scientists, software developers, physicians and engineers.
Immigrants make Texas a lot smarter, too. Compared with the native-born, they’re much more likely to hold a bachelor’s degree or higher.
“There wouldn’t be a Texas miracle without immigration,” said Pia Orrenius, a senior economist who co-wrote the report.
That conclusion can’t be emphasized enough, not when the president and many state leaders are still pushing to restrict immigration, even legal immigration. Opponents often say foreigners take jobs from natives or depress wages, but Texas provides a counterargument.
In a booming labor market like ours, immigrants fill major holes in the workforce, which enables the state to keep attracting companies and growing jobs. Weekly earnings for the lowest-skilled foreign-born workers — those without high school credentials — are actually higher in Texas than in the rest of the U.S.
“This is surprising because most of these low-skilled immigrants are likely undocumented,” the Dallas Fed report said.
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