Just over two years ago, as the world was confronting the COVID-19 pandemic, the United States hit a record unemployment rate of 14.7 percent. Since then, the U.S. labor market rebounded as everyday life has mostly returned to normal. But digging into the latest unemployment data reveals a thought-provoking trend that should have sweeping implications for U.S. immigration policy. In short, many high-tech, high-skilled industries rebounded from historic unemployment so quickly that they now face labor shortages.
According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics April report, the unemployment rates for workers in high-tech industries are far lower than the national average of 3.3 percent. Telecommunications industries reported only 7,000 unemployed individuals for an unemployment rate of 1.0 percent. The picture is even starker for high-tech manufacturing. Computer and electronic products manufacturers—including semiconductor manufacturers—reported only 6,000 unemployed for an unemployment rate of 0.7 percent. Such low unemployment rates compared to the national average indicate incessant demand for workers.
Perhaps unsurprisingly, high-tech industries have also been some of the fastest to rebound from record-breaking unemployment. Between April 2021 and April 2022, the national unemployment rate dropped 2.4 percent. Yet, over that same period, the unemployment rate for telecommunications industries dropped by 3.3 percent. Computer and electronics manufacturing nearly doubled the national trend, dropping over 4.5 percent.
Meanwhile, Congress is actively negotiating bipartisan legislation geared toward boosting U.S. global competitiveness in high-tech industries. Just last week, the Senate and House delegations held the first meeting of the conference committee on the United States Innovation and Competition Act (USICA). This broad sweeping legislation could include as much as $52 billion to spur domestic investment in semiconductor manufacturing, $45 billion for supply chain resiliency, and hundreds of millions for telecommunications workforce develop
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