A new study demonstrates a key role immigrants fill in the American economy. The study, by the bipartisan research and advocacy group New American Economy, shows immigrants are more likely than U.S.-born workers to pick up night and weekend shifts in a number of fields.
It’s the case across many industries that require a broad range of skills but may be most noticeable with those working in education (including professors, librarians and special education teachers), where immigrants are 23 percent more likely than U.S.-born workers to take those non-traditional hours.
In low-skilled occupations like home health aides — a crucial sector throughout New England as the region rapidly ages — immigrants are nearly 17 percent more likely than U.S.-born workers to pick up overnight and weekend shifts. The same goes for high-skilled fields, like nursing and physical therapy.
Agustina Saenz is an Argentinean physician working nights at Brigham and Women’s Hospital. She’s been in Boston for two years and says night shifts are often the best way to get in the door at a hospital.
“The opening was just for nights and I wanted to work at the Brigham because of the opportunities it has, so I took it,” she says.
Saenz says many of her colleagues who are also immigrants to the U.S. are willing to work nights in exchange for green card sponsorship.
The group that issued the report often hears about hiring challenges from employers looking to fill unusual hours in several fields like health care, manufacturing and academia.
Angie Marek, director of research at New American Economy, says the report highlights the important supplementary role that foreign-born workers play in a number of fields.
“Immigrants can be, in some industries, a big part of the solution to how you can actually keep these jobs staffed,” Marek says, “keep our economy running 24/7, which is exactly what so many of us count on for our day-to-day lives.”
Marek says immigrants also play a large role as professors and researchers in STEM fields, which is crucial in a city like Boston.