New fact sheet on workforce program data and immigrants

By Amanda Bergson-Shilcock, January 11, 2016

How many immigrants are participating in federal workforce development programs? The answer can be surprisingly hard to determine.

A new fact sheet from the Workforce Data Quality Campaign and National Skills Coalition provides an overview of the current landscape, and makes recommendations for how to improve federal workforce program data on immigrants.

Overall, there are 41.3 million immigrants in the United States, who comprise 13% of the total US population and 17% of the American workforce. Approximately three-quarters have legal status, and the remainder are unauthorized.

Yet major federal workforce programs such the Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act (WIOA) do not provide data on immigrant participation. Rather, WIOA-funded programs are required to report data on limited English proficient participants — a category which excludes immigrants who are fluent in English, and includes American-born participants such as Puerto Ricans.

Knowing how many immigrants are being served is important in helping local stakeholders determine:

  • How closely the population being served by federal workforce programs reflects local workforce demographics
  • Whether federal workforce programs are leading to the desired outcomes for immigrant participants

Check out the fact sheet to learn more about the challenges and opportunities in collecting such data.