The nonpartisan Urban Institute publishes studies, reports, and books on timely topics worthy of public consideration. The views expressed are those of the authors and should not be attributed to the Urban Institute, its trustees, or its funders.
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This report discusses the contribution of immigrants to Maryland's workforce, trends in the workforce between 2000 and 2006, and recommendations for educating and training immigrant workers. Rapid growth in the number and share of immigrant workers in the state do not appear to have come at the expense of native-born workers, who saw their labor force participation grow over this six year period. Maryland's immigrant workers are unusually diverse, highly educated and work in key skilled industries such as healthcare, information technology and the sciences. However, there are also large numbers of immigrant workers with low educational attainment and English proficiency, as well as some with high levels of education that are working in unskilled occupations. Education, English language, and job training programs if properly tailored to immigrants' and employers' needs could potentially raise the incomes of immigrant workers and increase their tax contributions to the state..
Immigrants are a rapidly growing component of Maryland’s population and an increasingly integral part of
the state’s workforce. Immigrants accounted for more than half of the state’s total population and workforce
growth from 2000 to 2005–06.
Immigrants are neighbors, parents, and consumers. And they are even more likely than other Maryland residents
to be workers. In 2006, 12 percent of all Marylanders were born outside the United States, but a higher
share of workers (15 percent) were immigrants. This includes both legal and unauthorized immigrants,
and those working in all sectors of the economy—including agriculture.
Immigrants are a substantial share of Maryland’s growing workforce, and despite the recent economic downturn,
the state’s economy is still creating new jobs and experiencing relatively low unemployment. According
to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, Maryland’s employment is continuing to grow in 2008, albeit more
slowly than in the most recent years. In May 2008 Maryland had the 12th lowest unemployment rate (4.0
percent) among the states. The national rate was 5.5 percent.
This report focuses on recent growth in the immigrant population and workforce in Maryland and compares
this growth to trends in the native-born workforce. The report outlines some of the unusual features of the
immigrant workforce in Maryland: its diversity of origins, relatively high educational attainment, high bilingual
share, concentration in high-skilled sectors of the economy, and for some groups, high wages and tax
contributions. The report also focuses on less-skilled immigrants, who compose a large share of immigrants,
especially those from Latin America.
In addition, the report describes the geographic dispersion of immigrant workers across the state and their
commuting patterns. Recommendations are drawn up for integrating immigrants and providing upward
mobility for all workers in Maryland.
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