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Labor Shortage 7

(August 23, 2007) It's impossible to discuss the North American labor shortage without paying attention to the immigration question. The way I read the population forecasts, the growth promised by the BLS and Department of the Census is heavily dependent on a constant flow of immigration. Although some might disagree, it seems to me that immigration has fueled growth in the United States off and on over the centuries.

It's important to note that immigration was not a factor for most of the 20th Century. When I graduated from high school in 1972, the number of immigrants in the US was at an all time low, 3%. In the rest of US history, the number was more lie 16% or 17%. The hordes of baby boom children precluded the need for workers who perform the tasks of many immigrants today.

Since 1972, the ranks of immigrants in our country have swollen to nearly 12%.

While the number of baby boom children doubled the population of the country overnight, the coming generations are somewhat different. Baby boomers have reproduced at a rate that is closer to staying even. Population growth now is an import.

This structural balance between the offspring of the baby boom (the loathsome Gen Y) and the immigrants required to continue population growth is borne well within the group. Gen Y attitudes about race, ethnicity and diversity in general are strong products of the educational system. The problems of perception exist in the preceding generation(s).


"The percentage of patents filed by foreigners living in the U.S. has tripled in the past decade - yet the tight cap on permanent visas may force entrepreneurs back home to create rival companies in China, India and elsewhere, according to a study." Findlaw

The dysfunctional agenda of the American government plays sweetly for electoral dynamics and confuses the business reality. Given the complexity of the labor shortage question and the correspondingly deep connection to National competitiveness, it's sad to report that little of substance is being produced by the political process.

Unmanaged, the labor shortage will rapidly become more than an irritant. By the time it becomes an emergency, it will take generations to solve.

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