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Despite Political Resistance, Use of Temporary Worker Visas Rises as U.S. Labor Market Tightens

June 21, 2017 (1 min read)

Muzaffar Chishti and Jessica Bolter, MPI, June 20, 2017 - "With laid-off workers by his side at campaign rallies, Donald Trump pledged to preserve “U.S. jobs for U.S. workers.” True to that promise, since assuming office, President Trump has issued an executive order and a series of policy statements, accompanied by executive-branch actions, intended to crack down on real and perceived abuses in temporary foreign worker programs.

However, in a parallel reality, employers across occupations are increasingly relying on all available temporary worker channels to respond to labor shortages. Demand for H-2A, H-2B, and H-1B visas has grown as the U.S. unemployment rate fell to 4.3 percent in May, the lowest level recorded in 16 years. A month earlier, job openings were at their highest level since 2000, according to a recent Pew Research Center report.

This article examines increases occurring in the key temporary worker programs, both high- and low-skilled. ... "