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Immigrant Workers Increasingly In Middle-Skilled Jobs

Audio

Aired 9/21/10

A new study is challenging the conventional wisdom about immigrant labor in the U.S. When it comes to the economy and job skills, immigrants in San Diego and in the rest of California are faring better.

— A common belief about immigrants is that they work in unskilled jobs. But a new study by the Migration Policy Institute in Washington shows something different.

The fastest growth in immigrant employment since 2000 are jobs that require specific skills.

"Most of the information that's out there about immigrants in the economy sort of undervalues their role in the middle skill jobs," said Randy Capps, co-author of the study. "These are jobs like nursing and nurse assistants, plumbers and electricians. Immigrants' job growth in these types of jobs has been faster actually than it has been in the economy overall. "

But the trend also points to the fact that the demand for community college degrees in San Diego may not meet the supply.

"We know that the funding for the community college system has not been adequate to meet the demand particularly in states like California, which has such a rapid growth in the immigrant populations, and that was before the recession," said Capps. "Since the recession, education in California has taken a big hit. "

This means an increasing number of immigrant families is making $30,000 or more a year, considered a family-sustaining wage.

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