I am for economic growth. Now, this shouldn’t be an earth-shattering surprise to you, few people are against growth. However, you might encounter people who are for economic growth, but against immigration. Here is why that is a juxtaposition.
In many ways, immigration equals economic growth. Don’t take my word for it, look at the facts:
- 40% of fortune 500 companies were founded by immigrants or their children (source).
- Immigrants start ¼ of technology and engineering companies in the U.S even though they only represent ⅛ of the population (source).
- In 2012, immigrant-founded engineering and technology companies employed 560,000 workers and generated $63 billion in sales nationwide (source)
These are impressive numbers. To top it up, here are three concrete examples of successful immigrants:
- Jan Koum, born in Ukraine, and co-founder of Whatsapp, which was recently sold to Facebook for $19 billion.
- Jerry Yang, co-founder of Yahoo and born in Taiwan. Yahoo’s market cap: $37 billion
- Sergey Brin, co-founder of Google and born in Russia. Google’s market cap: $379 billion.
This country is built on immigration, our history and our heritage has created a culture and a narrative that is unparalleled by any other nation. The U.S. is where smart people from other nations come to prove themselves, and this brings economic growth for everyone. But, we don’t just need talented immigrants to start companies, we also need them to meet the huge demand from already established American companies.
More than one-fourth of science and engineering firms already report difficulty hiring, and this is only going to get worse. Over the last 10 years, jobs in STEM have grown three times as fast as jobs in the rest of the economy, but the number of Americans studying STEM is growing by less than 1% per year (Source: ESA & McKinsey). The U.S. is facing a projected shortfall of more than 200,000 advanced-degree STEM jobs by 2018 (Source)
As a country, we can’t compete on salaries levels, but we can compete in terms of knowledge and innovation. Unfortunately, the current immigration laws are inhibiting our competitiveness. The latest round of applications for H-1B visas for high-skilled workers exceeded the annual limit within a week. 172,500 H-1B petitions were filed for 85,000 visas, the highest number ever recorded for H-1B demand (Source). Keep in mind, these are company-sponsored visas and thus a reflection of a real demand.
FWD.us and The Partnership for a New American Economy (PNAE) are working on convincing Congress to accelerate an immigration reform and keeping America’s tech sector competitive. As part of this effort, FWD.us and PNAE are organizing 12 events all over the country during the last two weeks of April. Techstars Seattle is hosting one of these events.
Join us, and local entrepreneurs, investors, and leaders for a conversation on why immigration reform is critical to the tech and start-up communities in Seattle. The event takes place on Tuesday April 22 from 6pm - 8pm at 511 Boren Ave N, Seattle. See who is on the panel and register here: http://pnae.us/icodesea
If you can’t attend, help us spread the word on Twitter (click to tweet), and if you are an entrepreneur or an investor, sign the letters urging Congress to advance immigration reform.
If we succeed, an expansion of the high-skilled visa program would create an estimated 10,400 new jobs in Washington by 2020.