Assessing and Addressing Brain Waste in the United States

Jeanne Batalova, Migration Policy Institute
Michael Fix, Migration Policy Institute

Taking advantage of the unique features of the 2003 New Immigrant Survey and 2005-2006 American Community Survey, we examined employment and occupational trajectories of highly skilled immigrants in the United States. We found that more than 1.3 million or one in five skilled immigrants were either unemployed or working in unskilled jobs such as dish washers, security guards, or taxi drivers. We find that lack of English skills, nonrecognition of foreign credentials and work experience, non-European origin, shorter tenure in the United States and non-employment admission categories are the main factors behind the brain waste. Skill underutilization documented in our paper can be addressed by both immigrant admission and immigrant integration policies.

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Presented in Session 80: The Consequences of Immigration for Receiving Countries