Tamarine Cornelius
Wisconsin Budget

How Immigrants Help Wisconsin

They are 6% of all workers, 11% of computer and 20% of dairy industry jobs.

By , Wisconsin Budget Project - Mar 17th, 2018 08:08 pm

Statue of Liberty. Photo by William Warby (originally posted to Flickr as Statue of Liberty) [CC BY 2.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0)], via Wikimedia Commons

Statue of Liberty. Photo by William Warby (originally posted to Flickr as Statue of Liberty) [CC BY 2.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0)], via Wikimedia Commons

Immigrants are an intrinsic part of our nation, our state, and our communities. Every day immigrants care for family members, go to school, advocate for positive changes, and connect with other residents in the farmlands, small towns, and cities of Wisconsin. Their contributions help Wisconsin maintain strong, vibrant communities that ensure that Wisconsin is an attractive place to live and raise a family.

In addition to their many other diverse roles they hold, immigrants in Wisconsin are also workers. Immigrants make up a small but important part of the state’s workforce and play a critical role in sectors that are central to Wisconsin’s economy and identity.

Expanding and improving Wisconsin’s workforce is a high priority for state policymakers, who are concerned that the state’s low employment rate makes it difficult for employers to find workers. One solution to the state’s workforce crunch is to make sure Wisconsin has policies that support immigrants and immigrant workers, rather than adding barriers to opportunity.

In 2015, Wisconsin immigrants made up 6% of the state’s workforce, representing 184,000 workers. Sixty-nine percent of the state’s immigrant population is in the workforce, which is slightly higher than the percent of U.S.-born workers in the workforce (67%). These numbers should catch the attention of Wisconsin lawmakers who are trying to increase the Wisconsin workforce by spending millions of dollars on ads to convince potential workers to move to our state.

Just as Wisconsin immigrants are a broad and diverse group, so too are the jobs they hold and the industries in which they work. Immigrants in Wisconsin go to work every day as teachers, home health workers, doctors, and groundskeepers. Immigrants teach Wisconsin children, maintain physical facilities, provide personal care to those who can’t provide it themselves, and harvest crops.

Immigrants play a particularly large role in Wisconsin’s farming industries. Twenty percent of workers in Wisconsin’s farming, fishing, and forestry industry are immigrants. Wisconsin’s role as “America’s Dairyland” hinges in part on the labor of immigrants who go to work every day at dairy farms across the state.

Immigrants also play an important role in Wisconsin’s science and technology industries. Immigrants make up 11% of workers in fields related to computers and mathematics, including software development and computer programming. Immigrants also comprise 11% of workers in science fields, including medical and physical sciences.

Ten percent of workers in production occupations are immigrants, including meat processing, machine tool cutting, and metal work, which are sectors of the state economy where employers complain of a large shortage of workers.

Immigrants in Wisconsin Make Up a Large Share of Workers in Agriculture, Technology, and Science Fields

Immigrants in Wisconsin Make Up a Large Share of Workers in Agriculture, Technology, and Science Fields

Wisconsin’s economy needs immigrant workers. Policymakers should make sure that immigrants in Wisconsin have the opportunity to thrive and contribute to Wisconsin’s shared prosperity, both as community members and workers. When immigrants do well—both in the workplace and in families and communities—we all succeed.

5 thoughts on “Wisconsin Budget: How Immigrants Help Wisconsin”

  1. frank schneiger says:

    My parents immigrated to this country from the former Yugoslavia when they were young. Their parents were uneducated, and neither of my parents finished high school. I was the first in my family to do so. We have been very lucky to be here. There is almost no chance that they would be admitted into the United States today.

    To Tamarine Cornelius, I can only say, Nice Try. But, I am afraid that in our current dark times, facts and statistics are largely irrelevant. A portion of the population believes lies that they want to believe, and the liar in chief sits in the White House with plenty of acolytes in Congress, statehouses and the media. And we can forget about the message on the Statue of Liberty. In these days, that message could read, “Give us your rich, your corrupt, your disreputable yearning to launder ill-gotten money in high-end real estate and other scams.”

    Within this context, it is extraordinary that the focus of nativist hatred is on immigrants from Mexico and Central America who work like hell, while little attention is paid to those from at least two other countries whose immigrants engage in widespread criminality and fraud, along with other negative behaviors, but are never mentioned on Fox News, by the Trump administration, in Congress, or on any of the multiple hate sites.

    We have been through periods like this before, but it would be a mistake to underestimate the damage that is being done to families and to our country and its moral standing. And, unfortunately, it’s going to take a lot more than facts and statistics to reverse the course we are on and arrive at a reasonable immigration policy, including addressing the problem of illegal immigration.

  2. Wisconsin Conservative Digest says:

    Immigrants have been central to Wisconsin since time began as no one was ever here at that time. Our family came from Czech in 1856 to Maribel but they were under laws and the right programs, not coming over border to also be crooks and terrorists.
    So we need a good immigration program and to stop people coming in lllegally. We want people that add to the country not subtract.

  3. Judy says:

    When are you going to do an article on How ILLEGAL Immigrants HURT WISCONSIN????

  4. Troll says:

    We need to separate illegal from legal immigrants, first. Second, if your an illegal immigrant and you commit a felony such as, molestation, rape, armed robbery, domestic abuse and drug trafficing you need to leave. Instead we see Democratic politicians (Oakland mayor) in California, protecting illegal child rapists and wife beaters. Trump is right. Get them out, protect women and children.

  5. Terry says:

    @Judy, go to any of the far right wing nut job sites. You can read all day long about the horrors of immigrants and how everything is “their fault.”

    @Troll, wrong, it’s far right wing Republicans like Career Politician Scott Walker, Vukmir and Trump that support forcing women to have their rapist’s babies, even in cases of incest and rape! So I doubt they would kick them out at least until after the State, aka Big Government , forces these victims of rape and incest to have their incestuous rapist’s babies! So sick.

    Dump Walker 2018
    Dump ALL Republicans 2018

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