Wall Street Journal Editorial: U.S. Needs More Immigrants

The Wall Street Journal on July 24, 2023, published an editorial calling for increased U.S. recruitment and admission of immigrants.[1] Here are its reasons for that conclusion.

“The U.S. has a people problem. The birth rate has been sliding for years, and it’s about to translate into a shrinking labor force. By 2040, according to a study out this week, America could have more than six million fewer working-age people than in 2022. The only way to counter the domestic trend is by attracting workers from abroad.”

According to the editorial, “’The working-age U.S. population has peaked absent additional immigration,’ writes Madeline Zavodny, in a forthcoming paper from the National Foundation for American Policy. ‘New international migrants are the only potential source of growth in the U.S. working-age population over the remainder of the next two decades.’ Ms. Zavodny is an economics professor at the University of North Florida, and her analysis is based on data from the Census Bureau and Bureau of Labor Statistics.”

“At a time when some Americans view foreign workers as cheap competition, she offers a prescription for growth and vigor. In particular she notes that, although foreign-born workers accounted for nearly half the gain in U.S. employment from January 2021 through May 2023, ‘employment among prime-aged U.S.-born workers also soared during this period.’”

“Unemployment has been historically low, she adds, and difficulty of finding good workers will increase if the pool of working-age people shrinks.”

“The domestic trend lines aren’t good, for two big reasons. The declining birthrate is one. The other is Baby Boomers are both living longer and aging out of the work force. Anyone who imagines that a shrinking population is pleasant should spend some time in Japan and Italy. As these countries are finding, decline means fewer people to produce goods and services, as well as less innovation. Even China’s Communists now admit that owing to their pursuit of a one- child policy, they now face, as Milton Friedman predicted, a huge worker shortage that will challenge economic growth.”

“So far the U.S. has been able to compensate via immigration, which was ‘the sole source of growth in the U.S. working-age population in 2021 and 2022,’ Ms. Zavodny says. But this isn’t guaranteed. She suggests a future of competition among countries hit by the double whammy of a declining birth rate and aging society. Canada recently rolled out a new work permit to lure away foreigners in the U.S. on high-skill H-1B visas. The target of 10,000 applicants was met in two days.”

“Amid Donald Trump’s talk about a wall and Joe Biden’s chaos at the southern border, it’s hard to imagine any solutions from Congress before 2025. But Ms. Zavodny identifies labor-force trends that will have damaging consequences if they aren’t addressed. Someone needs to make the case that admitting foreign workers is good for Americans.”

In her underlying  paper for the National Foundation for American Policy, Zavodny adds, “Technological change, including ongoing advances in generative AI, is unlikely to eliminate the need for additional workers. In the long run, technological progress raises labor demand by increasing productivity and incomes. In the short to medium run, domestic workers are unlikely to be sufficient to meet labor demand as federally funded infrastructure projects roll out and domestic semiconductor production ramps up. The U.S. will need workers with specialized skills that are in short supply and take years of education and training to acquire. Now and in the future, the U.S. will still need workers, and it risks not having enough of them, particularly those with desired skills, absent additional immigration.”[2]


 This blog agrees with this W.S.J. editorial as evidenced by many blog posts and comments regarding U.S. immigration.[3]


[1] Editorial: America’s Choice: Immigration or Bust, W.S.J. (July 24, 2023).

[2] Zavodny, Why the United States Still Needs Foreign-Born Workers, Nat’l Foundation for American Policy (July 2023).

[3] E.g., Posts and Comments to dwkcommentaries.com: Iowa State Government Encouraging Refugee and Migrant Resettlement (Feb. 3, 2023); Comment: National Worker Shortages in U.S. (Feb. 3, 2023); Comment: Economists Surprised by January New Jobs Data (Feb. 4, 2023); Comment: Migrant Workers Being Paid Premium Wages in Tight U.S. Job Market (Feb. 8, 2023); More Details on U.S. and Other Countries’ Worker Shortages (Feb. 9, 2023); Other States Join Iowa in Encouraging Immigration to Combat Aging, Declining Population (Feb.22, 2023); COMMENT: More Support for Immigrants’ Importance for U.S. Economy (Feb. 23, 2023); U.S. High-Tech Layoffs Threaten Immigrants with Temporary Visas (Feb. 25, 2023).


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As a retired lawyer and adjunct law professor, Duane W. Krohnke has developed strong interests in U.S. and international law, politics and history. He also is a Christian and an active member of Minneapolis’ Westminster Presbyterian Church. His blog draws from these and other interests. He delights in the writing freedom of blogging that does not follow a preordained logical structure. The ex post facto logical organization of the posts and comments is set forth in the continually being revised “List of Posts and Comments–Topical” in the Pages section on the right side of the blog.

2 thoughts on “Wall Street Journal Editorial: U.S. Needs More Immigrants”

  1. Comment: Americans in Their Prime Are Flooding Into the Job Market

    A few days after its editorial calling for more immigrants into the U.S., the Wall Street Journal reports that “the core of the American work force is back.”

    “Americans between 25 and 54 years of age are either employed or looking for jobs at rates not seen in two decades, a trend helping to counter the exodus of older baby boomers from the workforce. Economists define that age range as in their prime working years—when most Americans are done with their formal education, aren’t ready to retire and tend to be most attached to the labor force. . . . Prime-age workers now exceed prepandemic levels by almost 2.2 million.”

    “The big draw: a tight labor market. The unemployment rate has hovered near a half-century low for more than a year, and job openings outnumber the ranks of unemployed. Employers can’t be as choosy or selective.”

    “Employers raised wages, offered employees more flexibility and improved benefits in recent years.”

    However, “There are concerns that the Fed’s campaign to bring down inflation through higher interest rates will cause unemployment to rise too much and push some of the most vulnerable workers back to the sidelines.”

    Sparshott, Americans in Their Prime Are Flooding Into the Job Market, W.S.J. (July 22, 2023),

  2. Dire Shortages of Workers in U.S.Public Sector

    The State of Minnesota is an example of dire shortages of U.S. public workers “who are on site, sometimes at odd hours” like “nurses, groundkeepers, plumbers, social workers and prison guards.” [1]

    One of the reasons for this situation is “[w]ages in the private sector were growing faster than they had in decades, drawing people away from government jobs that had, for some, become too stressful. Civil servants also tend to be older than other workers, and more of them retired early rather than put up with mounting strain.”

    To meet this strain, “the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees, known as AFSCME, decided it needed to pitch in on a function usually reserved for human resources departments: getting people in the door. The union has started a national campaign to generate buzz around frontline positions, while locals are contacting community organizations and even families of union members to spotlight opportunities.”

    A related phenomenon is a national surge in child labor, many of whom are immigrants and many of whom are working in unsafe conditions. [2]
    [1] DePillis, Jobs Sit Empty in the Public Sector, So Unions Pitch in to Recruit, N.Y. Times (July 27, 2023).

    [2] Dreier, Labor Department Decries Surge in Exploited Migrant Children, N.Y. Times (July 27, 2023).

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