Wednesday, May 20, 2020

Immigrants Get the Job Done! Immigrant Health-Care Workers in the United States

With hospitals, clinics, and doctor’s offices on the frontlines of the pandemic response, immigrants are playing a key role in both high-skilled and health-care support jobs in this sector. Immigrants represent nearly 18 percent of the estimated 14.7 million people working in a health-care occupation in the United States. But these 2.6 million workers account for far larger shares in certain occupations:

  • 28 percent of all U.S. physicians
  • 24 percent of dentists
  • 38 percent of home health aides
  • 26 percent of personal care aides

Their role can be even more significant at the state level. For example, while immigrants are just 8 percent of all workers in Michigan, they account for 28 percent of its doctors and surgeons. They are 39 percent of physicians in New Jersey, 38 percent in Nevada, and 36 percent in Florida and New York.

In a new article, Jeanne Batlova for the Migration Policy Institute explores the role of immigrant health-care workers in the United States, and offers detailed state-level data on their employment by health-care occupation. The article also takes a look at employment in select health-care occupations for both the U.S.-born and immigrant populations, and by gender.

Table 1. All Civilian Employed Workers (ages 16 and older) and Health-Care Workers, by Occupational Group and Nativity, 2018

Note: The estimates of health-care workers here refer to their numbers by occupation, regardless of their industry of employment (many occupations can span several industries).  Source: Migration Policy Institute (MPI) tabulation of data from the U.S. Census Bureau 2018 American Community Survey (ACS).


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