New Indiana and Washington state fact sheets: immigrants can help meet demand for middle-skill workers

By Michael Richardson, March 14, 2018

Two new fact sheets from National Skills Coalition highlight the important role that immigrant workers play in filling middle-skill jobs in Indiana and Washington State.

Since 1990, immigrant populations have more than doubled in both states, demonstrating the growing role that immigrant workers can play in helping the states meet the demand for middle skill workers and respond to local industries’ talent needs.

To meet these demands, states will need to ensure that their talent-development pipelines are inclusive of the many immigrants who are poised to benefit from investments in their skills: 54 percent of adult immigrants in Indiana and 43 percent in Washington have not gone beyond high school in their education.

Indiana: A strong and growing immigrant population presents an opportunity to meet an ambitious postsecondary goal

Indiana has a steadily growing immigrant population. The state has seen its foreign-born population more than double from 2 percent in 1990 to 5 percent today.

Immigrants in Indiana are much more likely to be of working age: 82 percent are between the ages of 18-64, compared to just 61 percent of native-born residents. Indiana immigrants also have a higher labor force participation rate: 65.2 percent of adult immigrants in Indiana are in the labor force, compared to 63.4 percent of native-born adults.

The state has recently established an ambitious goal for postsecondary attainment: By 2025, Indiana aims to increase the percentage of state residents with a postsecondary degree to 60 percent. Meeting this goal will require investments in skill-building for all Hoosiers, including those born abroad. Indiana has already begun to make such investments through its innovative WorkINdiana program and related activities. NSC’s new fact sheet outlines additional opportunities for the state to consider. See the fact sheet: Middle-Skill Credentials and Immigrant Workers: Indiana’s Untapped Assets

Washington: A trailblazing state sets an aspirational goal

Washington State is home to a sizeable population of 1 million immigrants, who comprise almost 14 percent of state residents. As a result, they make up a vital role in Washington’s labor market. This role will continue growing as the immigrant population increases; already, the share of immigrants in the state’s population has had a 100 percent increase – going from 7 percent in 1990 to 14 percent today.

Washington has also set an aggressive goal for postsecondary attainment, aiming to increase the percentage of state residents ages 25-44 with a postsecondary credential to 70 percent by 2023. This goal will help focus state policy and spending decisions towards middle-skill opportunities.

The demand for middle-skill workers is anticipated to remain strong in Washington, with 42 percent of new job openings expected to be at the middle skill-level. In order for Washington to capitalize on this demand and draw on the full talents and abilities of their residents, the state will need to invest in the skills of native-born and immigrant workers alike.

Already, the state has been a trailblazer in skill-building investments, while at the local level the Seattle Office of Immigrant and Refugee Affairs represents an important partner. Learn more in our new fact sheet: Middle-Skill Credentials and Immigrant Workers: Washington State’s Untapped Assets.