People living in developing and third world countries, especially people living in Africa and South America, have the desire to move to the United States in pursuit of job opportunities (Alfred 2). Since the United States is an economy that is well-established and stable, it offers well-paying jobs and opportunities for career development. Despite being a developed nation with millions of job opportunities, many immigrants have come to the United States and not found a job opportunity (4). The rate of unemployment in the country continues to increase, showing some form of relationship between the number of immigrants and the rate of unemployment. A majority of Americans believe that immigrants come to the United States to steal their jobs. However, there are many factors that contribute to the increasing rate of unemployment. While most Americans believe that immigrants are the reason why they are losing jobs, the number of unemployed immigrants continues to increase. This paper discusses the various reasons why unemployment differs for immigrants and factors that influence the unemployment rate for immigrants.
The issue of unemployment among immigrants is not addressed in the United States, resulting in an increasing number of jobless immigrants. There are various personal and socio-economic factors that influence the probability of an immigrant facing unemployment in the U.S (Drinkwater 2017). These factors also affect Americans and determine whether they will get a job or not. A good example is an individual’s level of education or expertise. Having a high level of education or work experience increases one’s likelihood of getting a job in the United States, regardless of their nationality. However, some factors such as ethnic background, culture, religion, and language barrier only influence employment for specific groups of people. For immigrants, a combination of these factors influences the rate of unemployment (Drinkwater 2017).
A country’s investment in human capital determines the employability of its citizens. The rate of unemployment among immigrants differs as a result of the existing differences in their qualifications and skills (Portes & Bach 1985). There are many cases when human capital cannot be transferred from one country to the other. For instance, an immigrant with a degree and experience in medicine from an African country is at a disadvantage in the United States because of the requirement of certain specific skills in the country. This immigrant may wait for many years to get employment since they will have to apply for a license and go through various tests and verification exercises. The immigrant may have to wait for more than three years to get a license to practice in the United States. The type of education and the syllabus offered in foreign countries is totally different from that offered in the United States. An educated immigrant may have to go through additional training and certification before getting a license to work in the United States. Since one needs a license to work in the country, many immigrants end up unemployed.
There is also the issue of discrimination when it comes to immigrants. Some employers and organizations discriminate against immigrants, denying them an opportunity to work with them (Drinkwater 2017). These employers disregard any work experience or skills that immigrants may have from their countries. New immigrants are at a more disadvantage compared to immigrants who have been in the United States for many years. New immigrants are not aware of the existing labor market needs, the country’s specific skills needed, and existing job opportunities. When an immigrant stays in the country for some years, they learn what the market needs and the skills they need to get employment, increasing their chances of getting a job (Bandyopadhyay & Pinto 284). The lack of relevant skills, combined with factors such as location, discrimination and language barrier influence the rate of unemployment for immigrants in the United States.
Language barrier is one of the major factors that contribute to the increasing level of immigrant unemployment (Drinkwater 2017). Many immigrants that come to the United States in search of employment opportunities come from non-English speaking countries. In the United States, fluency in English is a requirement for almost every job opportunity. Immigrants that are not fluent in English end up unemployed for this reason. The residential location of immigrants also determines whether they will get a job or not. An immigrant that lives in a large city where job opportunities are scare as a result of competition from the educated and skilled natives is likely to end up unemployed. The opportunities available to them will be limited since the natives already exhaust available jobs. For this reason, many immigrants end up unemployed or go for the low paying jobs that are available to them and have no skill requirement.
Another major factor that determines the rate of unemployment in a country is the state of its economy. Immigrants are largely affected by the state of the economy when it comes to the rate of unemployment. When the economy is in a recession, there is a high chance that immigrants will lose their jobs. This is mostly because most immigrants are unskilled and have low levels of education compared to natives. Most immigrants, especially those from Latin America, only have high school education (Ramirez & Hondagneu-Sotelo 72), while others lack any type of formal education. Such immigrants are the first employees to be laid off whenever the country is experiencing an economic recession and companies are looking to cut down operational costs. Age is another major factor in the determination of the immigrant unemployment rate. Older immigrants that have been in the country for many years have higher chances of getting employment since they have acquired the necessary skills and knowledge to get a job in the United States. Younger immigrants have little work experience and knowledge of what is necessary to get a job in the country.
In conclusion, the general belief that immigrants are the reason why the rate of unemployment in the United States has increased is not entirely true. While immigrants increase the level of competition in human capital, there are many factors that place them at a disadvantage when it comes to getting a job. The truth is that while immigrants are looked at as the problem, immigration often makes it harder for them to find work in the United States. Some of the major factors that contribute to a high level of immigrant unemployment in the country are low levels of education, age, language barrier, discrimination, and location or residence.