As president and CEO of economic research and analysis firm The Perryman Group, Dr. Ray Perryman has spent the past 40 years researching what makes the American economy tick. And one thing our economy depends upon is immigration.
“The numbers are overwhelming,” Perryman says of the nation’s need for immigrants, above and beyond those who are already living here. “Once the baby boomers begin to age and we have a workforce shortage, our research has found all kinds of ways to fill that shortage: part is documented workers from other countries; part is encouraging citizens to job share or work after retirement; and part is through the undocumented workers already living here.”
The numbers are there, and we can’t deny them. We need immigration.
Perryman knows the concerns that come with his suggestion, and he has the data to back up his claim. In Texas, for example, 600,000 people are unemployed and one million workers are undocumented. “And let’s make the heroic assumption that every one of those unemployed people could take a job from an undocumented immigrant – and you’re still 400,000 workers short. And in reality, Americans can’t – and won’t – take the jobs undocumented folks are performing, because they’re hard labor jobs.”
To avoid the undeniable labor shortage the nation would face in the absence of immigration (and of undocumented workers), Perryman would like to see more guest worker programs and visas made available, and would also like to see a path to citizenship created for people who have been living and working in the United States and contributing to the economy for years. “I try to stick to the economics of the issue because that’s where I’m trained, but it’s also just a matter of human decency,” Perryman says. “These are good people who contribute and, yes, pay taxes. There’s just so much misinformation out there, and people think their jobs are being taken away, and it’s all been rolled up into a sound bite,” Perryman says, referring to the recent presidential election. “But the numbers are there, and we can’t deny them. We need immigration.”