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The dichotomous nature of labor force migration to the United States

John F. Long, USA Demography

Labor force immigration to the U.S. has a dichotomous character with unskilled and semiskilled labor coming from Mexico and Central America and highly skilled immigrants coming from the rest of the world. According to analysis of micro-data from the large-scale 2006 American Community Survey, 30% of the native U. S. population aged 25-39 have college degrees compared to 5% of immigrants from Mexico. In contrast, immigrants from greater distances have higher percentages of college graduates: Europe 49%, Asia 59%, Africa 37%, and Oceania 39%. The paper explores the characteristics of these skilled migration flows, the influence of American educational institutions, the complexities of the U.S. visa system, and other factors leading to such a great disparity between skill levels by region of origin. It also examines the historical increase of skilled labor in U.S. migration flows from the Eastern Hemisphere using microdata from previous censuses.

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Presented in Poster Session 3: Poster Session 3: migration, environment and spatial demography