Capital News Service

of the Michigan State University School of Journalism

Immigrants more likely to hold white collar than farm jobs, study shows

By CHENQI GUO
Capital News Service

LANSING — Zheng Wang, a computer programmer analyst who works for the state, said hes very satisfied with my work and life.

I like the work environment here. The salary is good. I dont need to worry about medical insurance for me or anyone in my family, said Wang, who lives in Okemos.

Thirteen years ago, Wang came to the U.S. from China. After earning his masters degree in computer science at Michigan State University, he started to work for the state.

Wangs experience isnt the only immigrant success story in Michigan. And he doesnt fit the stereotype that most immigrants work on farms or in menial jobs.

According to a new analysis of population data, 36 percent of immigrants in the Detroit area hold managerial or professional jobs, 25 percent have technical, sales or administrative support jobs and only 17 percent work in service jobs.

David Dyssegaard Kallick, the principal author of the report, said, Part of the story is that there are not a lot of jobs for construction workers or food service workers in metro area economies that are growing slowly.

Detroit Metro area is the third-highest in the country in immigrants’ economic contribution ratio, which means immigrants there are more likely to be in higher-skilled jobs, he said.

The Detroit area has a smaller proportion of immigrants than the nation as a whole but they contribute heavily to the economy.

The study by the Fiscal Policy Institute in New York, found that areas with immigrants evenly distributed across a wide range types of jobs and professions are more likely to experience more economic growth.

The fastest-growing metropolitan areas—Phoenix, Denver, Atlanta, Portland, Houston, Dallas—all have strong growth in immigrants share of the labor force.

On the other hand, the slowest-growing metro areas—Cleveland, Pittsburgh and Detroit—have among the slowest growth in immigrants share of the economy, according to the report.

However, Kallick cautioned that the study doesnt reflect the recent national economic downturn very well. The report is based on 2008 information

We dont have very good data for the recession yet. It’ll be really interesting to see the 2009 data, he said.

© 2010, Capital News Service, Michigan State University School of Journalism. Not to be reproduced without permission.

Story as a Google Doc

Filed under: Social Policy

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