Oklahoma is home to more than 4,300 manufacturing entities that produce $17.5 billion in output every year. Forbes ranked Oklahoma City as one of the top cities in the nation for creating manufacturing jobs. According to the National Association of Manufacturers, our local businesses employ nearly 140,000 workers at highly competitive salaries. Manufacturing jobs offer annual compensation that is $24,000 higher than any other non-agricultural private sector job.
Unfortunately, our manufacturing businesses are at risk if we don’t see congressional action to address the labor issues that are impeding the industry. According to a study by the Manufacturing Institute, there are currently more than 600,000 skilled manufacturing positions open in the United States. These employers are struggling to fill these jobs due to the lack of available American workers and are left with limited resolutions to the problem. That’s why I am joining the Partnership for a New American Economy and business owners across the U.S. in the #iBuildImmigration campaign, a monthlong push to let Congress know the critical importance of immigration reform to America’s business and manufacturing industry.
While my company is primarily a construction company, we do manufacture asphalt. The civil construction companies like ours are suffering, with the same struggles that are currently seen in the manufacturing sector. Our company has 20 open positions that could easily be filled by immigrant workers. These are high-paying, middle-income jobs that would have an immediate positive impact on the local and state economies. We advertise and take applications daily, but these jobs do require someone willing to get dirty, pass a drug screen, have a driver’s license and pass e-verify.
Immigrant workers have long been willing to fill the gaps in the American workforce. Despite political arguments to the contrary, it is advantageous to the U.S. economy for business owners to have access to a foreign workforce. Research conducted by the Partnership for a New American Economy shows that 46 U.S. manufacturing jobs are created or preserved in a county for every 1,000 immigrants who live there. Across the country, the immigrant workforce is helping the manufacturing industry survive.