Sunday, February 5, 2012

Is President Obama Right about Engineers?

Significant Numbers Unemployed or Underemployed

During a recent video chat session, President Obama told a woman that he could not understand why her engineer husband was unemployed because “industry tells me that they don’t have enough highly skilled engineers.” However, data from the American Community Survey collected by the Census Bureau show that there are a total of 1.8 million U.S.-born individuals with engineering degrees who are either unemployed, out of the labor market, or not working as engineers. This is true for those with many different types of engineering degrees.

The 2010 American Community Survey shows:

* There are 101,000 U.S.-born individuals with an engineering degree who are unemployed.

* There are an additional 243,000 U.S.-born individuals under age 65 who have a degree in engineering but who are not in the labor market. This means they are not working nor are they looking for work, and are therefore not counted as unemployed.

* In addition to those unemployed and out of the labor force, there are an additional 1.47 million U.S.-born individuals who report they have an engineering degree and have a job, but do not work as engineers.

* President Obama specifically used the words “highly skilled.” In 2010, there were 25,000 unemployed U.S.-born individuals with engineering degrees who have a Master’s or PhD and another 68,000 with advanced degrees not in the labor force. There were also 489,000 U.S.-born individuals with graduate degrees who were working, but not as engineers.

* Relatively low pay and perhaps a strong bias on the part of some employers to hire foreign workers seems to have pushed many American engineers out their profession.

* There are many different types of engineering degrees. But unemployment, non-work, or working outside of your field is common for Americans with many different types of engineering degrees (View detailed employment figures for specific types of engineers).

* The key policy question for the United States is how many foreign engineers should be admitted in the future. Contrary to President Obama’s statement, the latest data from the Census Bureau indicate there is a very large supply of American-born engineers in the country. It would be better for the president to seek more diverse sources of information than simply relying on “industry” to determine what is going on in the U.S. labor market.

Data Source: Figures for the above analysis come from a Center for Immigration Studies analysis of the public-use file of the 2010 American Community Survey (ACS) collected by the U.S. Census Bureau. Figures on degrees and employment are based on self-reporting in the survey and have been rounded to their nearest thousand. The survey asks about undergraduate degrees, so some of the individuals who have a Master’s or PhD may not have their graduate degree in engineering. Also, those who indicated that they have a “professional degree” are not included in the discussion of those with Master’s and PhDs because a large share have law degrees. The 2010 data is the most recent ACS available.

The above is a press release from from Center for Immigration Studies. 1522 K St. NW, Suite 820, Washington, DC 20005, (202) 466-8185 fax: (202) 466-8076. Email: Contact: Steve Camarota, 202-466-8185, The Center for Immigration Studies is an independent research institution which examines the impact of immigration on the United States. The Center for Immigration Studies is not affiliated with any other organization

Japan has illegal immigration problems too

But tiny compared to most other prosperous countries

The number of foreign nationals detained by immigration officials for one year or more has dropped significantly since a more flexible approach was adopted in response to harsh criticism of long-term detentions, according to the Justice Ministry.

As of August, 167 foreigners at immigration facilities in Ibaraki, Osaka and Nagasaki prefectures had been held for at least six months, the ministry said Friday.

Many of them are believed to have overstayed their visas and were waiting to be deported or were seeking asylum in Japan.

Those who had been held for at least one year totaled 47, down sharply from 115 at the end of 2009. The ministry said that since July 2010 it has been actively releasing people who are subject to deportation when it sees no need to keep them in custody.

The United Nations in 2007 criticized Japan's long-term detention of immigrants and recommended shorter periods of confinement, following a rash of suicides and hunger strikes at domestic immigration centers.

Support groups and lawyer associations have repeatedly called on the government to make improvements in the treatment of detainees. They argue that people held at immigration centers receive poor medical care, even though some detainees are suffering from serious illnesses.

Faced with claims that it was taking too long to conduct asylum reviews, the Justice Ministry adopted a target of processing them within six months.

As a result, the number of cases without any decision to grant asylum after six months dropped to 35 as of March 31 last year, a dramatic drop from the 612 cases at the end of June 2010.

In terms of the time taken to review asylum cases, immigration officials spent an average of 12.6 months between July and September 2010 and 14.4 months between October and December 2010 per case. But the periods were curtailed to 4.7 months and 5.2 months in the same periods last year.


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