Globally, Migrants Likely to Be Underemployed, Unemployed

According to the study working migrants have lower job satisfaction than native-born. The majority of migrants worldwide are part of the labor force of their adopted countries, but they are more likely than the native-born to be underemployed or unemployed.


These findings, featured in the International Organization for Migration’s World Migration Report 2013, are based on Gallup World Poll interviews with nearly 25,000 first-generation migrants and 442,000 native-born residents in 150 countries between 2009 and 2011. Gallup groups migrants and the native-born by whether they live in high-income economies (referred to as “the North”) or middle- to low-income economies (referred to as “the South”).

Migrants in High-Income Countries Particularly Likely to Be Underemployed, Unemployed

Migrants living in high-income countries are slightly more likely than the native-born to be part of the workforce. But migrants are less likely to work full time for an employer — 52% and 56%, respectively — and are more likely to be underemployed or unemployed.

In middle- to low-income countries, on the other hand, migrants are less likely than the native-born to be part of the workforce. They are, however, more likely to work full time for an employer — 48% vs. 44% — and are just as likely as the native-born to be underemployed or unemployed.


Migrants Less Satisfied With Their Jobs

Gallup’s definition of underemployment does not address whether migrants are working below their skill or education levels. And migrant workers — who are increasingly arriving in destination countries without jobs — tend to fill vacant jobs, sometimes taking positions that they are over-qualified for or working in dangerous environments.

Gallup data do show that employed migrants generally report being less satisfied with their jobs than the native-born. Working migrants who have moved from one high-income economy to another (North to North) are less likely than the native-born to say they are satisfied with their job — 75% and 84%, respectively. They are also less likely to say that their job is the ideal one for them — 59% vs. 67%.


Employed migrants who have moved from a middle- to low-income economy to a high-income economy (South to North) are as likely to be satisfied with their jobs as the native-born, but they are less likely than the native-born to say their job is ideal.

Employed migrants who have moved from one middle- to low-income economy to another (South to South), on the other hand, are less satisfied with their jobs than the native-born and are less likely to consider their job ideal. Job satisfaction among North-to-South migrants is comparable with that of the native-born.


A lack of good jobs at home is one of the reasons many migrants leave their countries. But not all migrants find jobs when they arrive in their new country. Many do appear more likely to be employed full time for an employer than if they stayed home — particularly those moving South to North — but they are also more likely to not find jobs or to find jobs that do not make full use of their capacity. Migrants who move from South to South, on the other hand, are less likely to be underemployed or unemployed than if they had stayed home.

IOM and Gallup will be presenting results from the World Migration Report at events in Washington, D.C., and Vilnius, Lithuania, in coming weeks. Read the full report.

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Immigrant Entrepreneurs

There is growing number of Immigrant Entrepreneurs starting up successful businesses. Much of the great success has to do with strong motivation and drive to succeed at any cost, especially when many consider there humble origins of where they came from. Forbs and Psychology today have published such as the one below on why do foreigners make better entrepreneurs.

Forbes Magazine recently reported that first-generation American migrants were starting businesses at over twice the rate of natives. In addition, first-generation migrants create start-ups at twice the rate of second-generation migrants. There is a lot of data on this phenomenon. And the pattern is the same for many Western countries. But what is the explanation?

Migrants have ‘get-up-and-go’ flair. Whether they are more likely to be in that surprisingly small number of the ultra-successful or not is unclear. But you only have to look at various Rich Lists to see by name or photograph that all sorts of minorities seem to be over-represented.

This comes from a recent Harvard Business Review blog by a colleague: Half of the world’s skilled migrants go to America and in the past 20 years created 25% of all American venture-backed companies. There are around 500 start-ups with French founders just in the San Francisco Bay Area of California. There are over 50,000 Germans in Silicon Valley, where salaries for software engineers are much higher than in Europe.

It seems that when we look at business start-ups, particularly those that succeed, immigrants are unusually over-represented among the entrepreneurial and innovative. Some countries are so concerned about this that they offer “start-up visas” or “short-circuited passports” to those likely to bring prosperity, not only to themselves, but also to their family, community and adopted country. They are the ideal type of migrants: net ‘givers’.

That is why talent scouts go to top schools, universities and business schools in Asia to encourage the best students to come to their country. In this world, being less erudite and linguistically skilled does not matter.

These entrepreneurial immigrants are often most commonly found in the technology and engineering sector. Note maths, not languages: boy’s stuff. Here you only need raw fluid intelligence, not book learning. It is the inventive urge that often results from spending too much time with computers.

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Facts About Immigrant Women Working in the U.S. Food Industry


Undocumented women who are feeding the country with their labor routinely endure sexual harassment, wage theft and other abuses, according to a new report released today by the Southern Poverty Law Center (SPLC). This report report released by the Southern Poverty law Center exposes all the hardships and struggles immigrant women have face with issues like low wages, sexual harassment or working in dangerous conditions  without adequate safety precautions.

The report’s release coincides with the 50th anniversary of Edward R. Murrow’s documentary “Harvest of Shame,” which chronicled the plight of migrant farmworkers. CBS broadcast the documentary on Thanksgiving in 1960.

“These women are the backbone of the food industry but are exploited and abused in ways that most of us can’t imagine and that none of us should tolerate,” said SPLC Legal Director Mary Bauer, co-author of the report. “Fear keeps these women silent, so their suffering is invisible to all of us who benefit from their labor every time we sit down at the dinner table.”

The report is based on extensive interviews with 150 immigrant women from Mexico, Guatemala, and other Latin American countries. They live and work in states across the country. All have worked in the fields or factories that produce food for America.

Many of the women interviewed for the report said the threat of deportation and the possible destruction of their families keeps them from reporting workplace abuses — even when it means enduring sexual harassment and other indignities.

“It’s because of fear [that] we have to tolerate more,” said one 26-year-old Florida farmworker interviewed for the report. “Sometimes they take advantage because we don’t have papers. They mistreat us, and what can we do? Where would we go?”

Many workers described keeping track of the wages they had earned only to discover a far smaller amount in their paychecks. Some said they were not paid at all for work they performed. Sexual harassment and even brutal sexual assaults by male co-workers and supervisors were also a constant threat for many of these women. Some saw it as a danger that simply must be tolerated for a day’s pay. Many are reluctant to report sexual assaults and other crimes to police for fear of being deported.

The women also reported working in dangerous conditions without adequate safety precautions. Field workers reported frequent exposure to chemicals and pesticides.

Farmworkers remain the least protected workers in America. They were intentionally excluded from nearly all major federal labor laws passed during the New Deal era. Though some laws have been amended since then, many exemptions remain. They are not entitled to overtime pay under federal law, for example. On smaller farms and in short harvest seasons, they are not even entitled to the federal minimum wage. In addition, farmworkers are not covered by workers’ compensation laws in many states and are excluded from many state health and safety laws.

The report concludes that wholesale reforms at the federal level are needed to protect these workers. These reforms include a path to citizenship for the undocumented workers who are feeding the country with their labor. Reforms also must include stronger worker protections — for all workers, whether they labor in the field or in the factory, and whether they have legal status or not.

“For these women, workplace exploitation is the rule — not the exception,” said Mónica Ramírez, coauthor of the report and director for Esperanza: The Immigrant Women’s Legal Initiative of the SPLC. “Virtually every American relies on their labor. It is our responsibility to stop their abuse.”

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The Integration of Immigrants in the Work place

Here’s some interesting research done by Institute for Work and the Economy, on the integration of Immigrants in the work place.

This project addressing the challenges of integrating immigrants in the workplace
was conceived as a result of a plenary session at the 2003 Workplace Learning
Conference on the same topic. That session revealed deep-seated frustration
among workforce professionals who reported that very little appeared to be
available to them with respect to policies and practices that had been shown to be
effective in integrating foreign-born workers in American workplaces. At first,
we thought that the source of this frustration was an ineffective system for
disseminating information. And, to a fair degree we found that we were correct.
However, as we investigated further, we learned that there are significant areas
where the research is simply suggestive of good practices and other areas where
there is no serious research at all – especially in the context of the United States.
We also learned that although immigrants comprise a significant part of the
backbone of the American labor market, they also are viewed as being a special
population that is out of the mainstream. Consequently, human resources
professionals, labor activists, community organizers, educators, political leaders
and policymakers, and workforce professionals had few, if any, opportunities to
discuss and learn about effective strategies, policies and practices at conferences
held at their associations.
Clearly, no single project is able to fill the gap in knowledge in how foreign-born
workers are integrated successfully into the workplace. First, the issues are
extraordinarily complex in terms of the social, cultural, educational, motivational
factors of immigrant groups, and in terms of systems that serve as bridges into the
workplace and the community. Second, American attitudes and policies towards
immigrants in the workplace are both ambiguous and ambivalent, resulting in
highly localized initiatives – often at the scale of actions taken within the four
walls of a business. In regulated occupations such as nursing, policies and
practices vary state by state, and often, community by community. Finally,
federal, state and local policymakers base their visions of a workforce
development system on models that assume that the coming generations of
workers in the United States will be born and educated here despite overwhelming
evidence demonstrating that growth in the workforce depends substantially on
migrations of foreign-born workers. A change to models that account for multiple
pathways, both foreign and domestic, into the U.S. workforce would require a
fundamental shift in what we imagine will be the faces of American workers.
This exploratory initiative on the integration of immigrants is an effort to help
human resources professionals, community activists, educators, labor activists,
and professionals in the public workforce system seek and develop solutions to
real-life challenges of integrating immigrants in the workplace. Our primary
objective was to offer a framework supporting the development of policies,
practices and processes that lead to the successful integration of immigrant
workers. An early review of the literature – both popular and academic – showed
that the processes for effective immigrant integration are, for the most part,
simply taken for granted in the United States. However, we also noted that immigrants are finding their own way and advancing in the workforce, althoughfacing both delays and obstacles in the process. This suggested that employers, workers and communities have both formal and informal processes supporting integration. Therefore, we concluded that a reasonable early step to the development of more formal policies and practices was to describe with what actually was occurring in the field.

Generally, much of the effort in the U.S. appears to focus on basic needs: such as
education and health care. Ironically, although work is a primary driver for
international migration, all levels of government appear to be much slower to
respond to the workforce challenges. We can speculate as to the reasons why the
United States has pursued generally a laissez-faire approach to immigrant policy
as it pertains to the workplace. Two reasons offered are that immigration has been
confined historically to gateway cities that have developed informal integration
processes and that immigration policy is largely family-based as opposed to
skills-based. However, recent waves of immigrants in nearly unprecedented
numbers and across jurisdictions has prompted a realization at all levels that
effective integration does not simply “just happen.” Communities of all sizes and
types are experiencing for the first time in generations an influx of newcomers
speaking languages other than English, with long and rich cultures, unfamiliar
customs, and religions that differ from traditional Judeo-Christian practices.

Our report makes a broad sweep of all immigrants regardless of skill, country of
origin, gender or religion. We give special attention, however, to immigrants in
low-wage jobs. We also assume that some things are working well – that
employers, community organizations, unions, faith-based organizations,
immigrant-serving groups, educational institutions and public workforce systems
are finding ways of bringing immigrants into the workplace that are profitable to
businesses, lead to successful careers for the immigrants and that result in well-functioning communities. We recognize those practices and policies that are noteworthy and are worth exploring. However, we make no assertion as to whether something is “best” in its class.

We draw our lessons from the Chicago metropolitan area, from other parts of the
nation and, to a more limited extent, from around the world. In the Chicago metro
area, we heard from immigrant advocates, business managers, union activists,
educators, job trainers and community activists at seven community forums. We
also had many one-on-one conversations with leaders of immigrant-serving
organizations across many ethnicities and religions, informal meetings with
immigrants in coffee shops and in classrooms, and interviews of local experts. We
also mined the available literature on the U.S. and, to a more limited extent, on
Canada, Australia and the United Kingdom. We tapped the knowledge and
experiences of a cross-section of the leading experts in workforce development
and immigrant integration. This was accomplished through interviews with
experts on immigrant policy and a two-day, in-depth benchmarking and discovery
forum attended by a broad mix of experts on immigrant integration and on
workforce development.

This report addresses our primary objective. However, throughout the project we
pursued a second objective: to encourage others to develop their own resources,
policies and programs supporting better integration of immigrants in the
workplace. As a result, we openly share all products from this project through the
Institute’s website, presentations, public forums and through a blog. These
products include:

A practical guide to what the literature tells us about effective policies and
practices in the workforce integration of immigrants
• All working documents and summaries from the community forums, meetings
with the leadership of immigrant serving organizations, and the results of the
benchmarking and discovery forum
• A metro-wide forum that publicly explored what we have found to be the
critical issues of workforce integration:
• English language acquisition, jobs skills training and immigration status
• Credentials, certification and skills recognition, and entrepreneurship
• Community integration and jobs competition
• A “roadmap” that workforce boards, community organizations, local
education systems, immigrant-serving organizations, labor unions, and policy
makers at the local, state and federal levels may use as a strategic planning
• A bibliography of the current literature
• Important source materials and links to organizations that have valuable
resources on immigrant integration policies and processes
• A blog encouraging an exchange of views on various integration topics.

Finally, this report focuses exclusively on the issues of integration – what can and
should be done to ensure the successful participation of immigrants in the
workforce. It makes no comment on immigration policy. However, we believe
that efforts leading to the successful integration of immigrants in the workplace
can constructively inform the development of immigration policy.
The project on the integration of immigrants in the workplace was helped in
innumerable ways during the course of the previous twelve months. We are
sincerely thankful to the project funder, The Joyce Foundation, especially Jennifer
Phillips, the project advisory committee, the participants in the Benchmark and
Discovery Forum, the participants in the seven community forums, the many
people interviewed for this project, the Workforce Boards of Metropolitan
Chicago and Northern Illinois University, notably John Lewis and Lisa Bergeron.
The Institute for Work and the Economy project team takes sole responsibility for
the outcomes of this project and the opinions expressed through this final report,
the roadmap, presentations and publications. The people and organizations
making contributions to this project represent a diverse range of opinions and
positions, so our results cannot be construed as a consensus position and they may not be inferred to be the positions or opinions of The Joyce Foundation, Northern Illinois University or anyone else helping in this project. The following individuals provided invaluable guidance and assistance. They are listed without their organizational affiliations since some participated in the project outside their official roles.

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Race, Ethnic, Gender Differences and Wage Inequalities

Drawing on a social capital theoretical framework, I examine race, ethnic, and gender wage inequalities. Specifically, I extend past research by analyzing differences in the mobilization of different types of job contacts, what these types of contacts and their level of influence “buy” job seekers in the labor market, and the extent to which differences in social resources explain between-group variations in wages. Four aspects of job contacts are implicated: the race and gender of the job contact, the strength of the relationship between the job seeker and the job contact, and the job contact’s influence. Employing the Multi-City Study of Urban Inequality, I find that white men are more likely to mobilize weak, white, male, and influential contacts, those contacts hypothesized to positively impact employment outcomes. Moreover, their greater mobilization of male and influential ties helps to explain a substantial part of their wage advantage over white women and Lations. However, in many ways, their overall social resource advantage seems somewhat overstated. They reap no advantages over blacks, Latinos, and white women in their use of weak and white ties. Furthermore, results indicate that the benefits of social resources appear largely contingent on the social structural location of job seekers mobilizing them, less on any benefits inherent in different “types” of job contacts.

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Improving Immigrant Worker Performance

Improving Immigrant Worker Performance program is designed to explain how native supervisors and management can improve the assimilation of immigrant workers into the workplace. Misunderstandings, poor communications, and decreasing productivity are the leading causes of these challenges resulting in accidents, injuries, illnesses and of course, lower efficiency and productivity. The stakes are high, but the benefits are enormous for those organizations who understand their workforce and help immigrants be better employees.

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Do Immigrants Make Better Entrepreneurs & Managers ??

What makes immigrants so much more likely to launch a high-tech startup, compared with their native born peers? Consider the rise of Christian Gheorghe, an entrepreneur who started life in Romania and now is thriving as a Silicon Valley CEO.

Gheorghe’s latest company, Tidemark Systems, is in the spotlight this month. The Redwood City, Calif., maker of business-analytics applications is featured in the May 21 issue of FORBES as a part of a new breed of software companies that are holding down costs and speeding up innovation by building their businesses in the Internet cloud. That’s news; so is Gheorghe’s path to the top.

Growing up in Romania, Gheorghe insistently charted his own path. His parents were solidly working-class: his father was a lathe operator, while his mother was an accountant. He pursued an engineering degree, becoming the first family member to graduate from college. But he also tinkered with computers and electronics, while buying and selling Pink Floyd albums on the black market. With Romania’s Communist government heading toward a chaotic collapse in the late 1980s, he decided it was time to leave and try his luck elsewhere.

Arriving in the United States in 1989, at age 23, Gheorghe had limited English and no obvious way to put his Romanian technical training to use. Instead of moping, he took one of the first paying jobs he could find: unskilled labor on construction sites in the metro New York area.

“I carried plywood from the first floor to the second floor, over and over,” Gheorghe told me. “They paid me $100 a week plus a free bologna sandwich at lunch time.” It was a bottom-rung way to get started, but at least he was in the workforce. Within a year, he had improved his English – and his prospects.

Next stop: writing computer code during the daytime for a small robotics company, and driving a limo on nights and weekends to make some extra cash. All told, Gheorghe by 1990 was earning $700 a week. To save money, he slept on a cousin’s futon in Connecticut.

Always on the lookout for opportunities, Gheorghe chatted up one of his limo passengers, Andrew Saxe, who turned out to be the head of a small company managing direct-mail marketing lists. Saxe needed programming help. Gheorghe was ready to oblige. They teamed up to build Saxe Marketing into a business that ultimately was sold to Experian for $30 million in 1997.

Saxe got most of the proceeds. Gheorghe got a big enough taste of entrepreneurship’s rewards that he set out to start more companies on his own. In 1998, he started Tian Software, which analyzed Web traffic for large companies. That company was sold in 2005 to OutlookSoft for an undisclosed sum.

When SAP bought OutlookSoft in 2007, for $400 million, Gheorghe stayed on for a little while as a senior vice president, but then left in 2009 to become an entrepreneur in residence at Greylock Partners, moving to Silicon Valley in the process. It didn’t take long for Gheorghe to figure out what his next company should be. Tidemark Systems took shape in 2010, targeting the business analytics software market.

AnnaLee Saxenian, dean of the University of California, Berkeley, School of Information, since the mid-1990s has been documenting the rise of immigrant entrepreneurs in Silicon Valley and other high-tech hotspots. Technical training plays a big part, she finds. More than half of all people earning Ph.D.s in engineering at U.S. institutions in recent years have been immigrants.

But pluck may be even more important. Immigrants like Gheorghe don’t dawdle in their pursuit of better opportunities. They start at any available entry point in the job market, and then rapidly advance toward very ambitious personal goals. They keep pushing ahead, even if it means hauling plywood on a construction site or making small talk with whatever big shots they might be driving around in a borrowed limo.

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