While Utah may not be widely known as a manufacturing state, that industry is actually one of the backbones of our state’s economy. The manufacturing sector generates 13 percent of our annual gross domestic product at $14.5 billion. In a United States Chamber of Commerce study of the most enterprising states in the nation, Utah ranks in the top five of every export category and was the only state to rank in the top ten in every category.
Despite these bright statistics for our business industry, manufacturers nationwide are struggling due to a shrinking workforce, and Utah is not immune to this problem. Though the manufacturing sector pays the second highest average wage statewide, our workforce numbers are dwindling as older generations retire and younger generations increasingly seek jobs requiring advanced degrees.
To address the workforce shortages, we need to ensure that our companies have the workforce they need in order to stay in business. The most common sense way to achieve that goal is through immigration reform that focuses on the needs of our economy and supports American businesses.
Immigrant workers are already making meaningful contributions to the manufacturing industry. When immigrant workers fill the gaps left by Americans, jobs are created and we are able to keep businesses in the U.S. rather than seeing them move overseas. According to research conducted by the Partnership for a New American Economy, 46 U.S. manufacturing jobs are created or preserved for every 1,000 immigrants who live in a county.
Together, the more than 40 million immigrants in America have created or preserved 1.8 million manufacturing jobs nationally. That means immigrants are responsible for more than one in seven manufacturing jobs that exist in the United States today.