In North Carolina, there is a great need for immigrant labor in key industries of the economy. The lack of workers is impeding the expansion of multiple sectors.
Just to give an example, let’s look at how the state’s agricultural sector urgently needs more immigrant workers. The largest number of workers who arrived in the United States under the H2A temporary visa program in 2017 were hired in North Carolina, according to the latest report from the CIS.
The organization noted that last year North Carolina received 32,740 workers with H2A visas who worked in different areas of the agricultural sector. This made North Carolina the first state to employforeign labor under this program, followed by the state of Washington with 28,374 workers, Florida with 25,303, Georgia with 23,421 and California with 15,702.
Although some ultraconservative politicians do not want to see it, statistics show that immigrants in general, and Latinos in particular, are a key part of the local economy.
According to the AIC, out of all North Carolina workers (totaling almost 5 million), at least 521,577 (10.7%) are immigrants.
More than 44% of all people working in agricultural, fishing, and forestry occupations in North Carolina are immigrants. More than 20% of the state’s workers in information technology, science, and mathematics are immigrants. One in four construction workers in North Carolina is an immigrant.
More than one in ten (11.7%) small businesses in North Carolina are owned by immigrants, according to the AIC.
North Carolina ranked as one of the top 12 states with the highest population growth last year, according to estimates from the U.S. Census Bureau. Much of that growth was thanks to Latinos.
North Carolina went from having a population of 10.16 million in July 2016 to 10.27 million in July 2017. By July of last year, the state had about 972,288 Latinos, an increase of around 14% compared to the number reported in 2012 (845,000 people).
To a large extent, the economic growth of a state depends on the availability of labor. A multinational company that wants to open its offices in North Carolina or a local company that wants to expand its operations needs qualified and local labor so that its investment can be profitable.
Immigrants in general, and Latinos in particular, represent a key part of the local economy; so, it is time for ultraconservative politicians to put aside rhetoric based on prejudice. They should listen to entrepreneurs in sectors such as agriculture, construction, manufacturing, fishing, professional services, etc. It’s time to end the harassment against immigrants. It’s time to think about the economic future of states such as North Carolina, which depend on immigrant labor.