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Report: U.S. workforce growth since 2000 due to immigrants and their children

A nonpartisan think tank says the size of the U.S. labor force ages 25 to 54 would have shrunk by millions of workers since the start of the century, if not for immigrants and their U.S.-born children.

The Migration Policy Institute in Washington D.C. says, as of last year, 29% of the U.S. labor force were workers of immigrant origin. The figure marks an increase of more than half since the year 2000. 

“It really is striking that just in terms of the population of working age people all of that growth is coming from immigrants and their kids,” said Julia Gelatt, co-author and associate director of MPI’s U.S. immigration policy program.

Gelatt said other countries are developing streamlined policies to attract highly skilled immigrants and compete with the U.S, while lofty pay draws top talent to the U.S. despite restrictions.

Gelatt said U.S. immigrants have a wide mix of statuses, which is a key factor when people decide whether to borrow money and learn a new skill or just keep working.

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Matthew Casey has won Edward R. Murrow awards for hard news and sports reporting since he joined KJZZ as a senior field correspondent in 2015.