"The U.S. Economy Already Has All the Workers It Needs."
Not for long. The United States is going through a demographic shift of its own, as the nearly 80 million baby boomers get ready to retire. In January 2011, the first members of this generation celebrated their 65th birthdays, and 10,000 more will reach this milestone every day until 2030. The succeeding "Generation X" is more than 10 million individuals smaller, making it unable to fill the vacated spots alone.
Already, business leaders, politicians, and columnists are touting the need for more engineers, doctors, and technology geniuses -- hoping to ensure that the next Google, Ebay, or Intel (all founded by immigrants or children of immigrants) begins in the United States rather than elsewhere. Today, the 65,000 H-1B visas are snapped up in just days, attesting to overwhelming pent-up demand. Some propose doubling these numbers; others argue that the United States should be "stapling a green card to the diploma of any foreign student who earns an advanced degree at any U.S. university" to ensure the innovation happens here.
But the United States will also need those without fancy degrees or patents in hand, willing to clean buildings, to watch children, to maintain landscapes, or to care for the elderly and infirm. The United States is producing fewer and fewer (willing) candidates. Not only are the rising generations from smaller families, but they are also better educated, as the number of Americans without a college degree has declined over the past 30 years. It is doubtful that those working hard to invest in higher education will settle for these positions, which will likely number in the tens of millions.
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