New research from New American Economy highlights the crucial role immigrants are playing in Colorado’s economy, including in some of the state’s fastest-growing and most in-demand fields like healthcare, education, and social work. In order to remain competitive and meet the critical workforce shortages in these fields, Colorado will need to implement policies that not only attract and retain immigrant talent that complements U.S.-born workers, but that also build career pathways for the immigrants already living in the state.
Senate Bill 21-077 would expand access to occupational licenses, certificates, and registrations for Colorado’s immigrant population, thereby increasing economic opportunity for all residents and helping to meet the state’s pressing workforce needs.
Key findings from the report include:
- Immigrants are helping Colorado meet its growing demand for healthcare workers, especially in light of the COVID-19 pandemic. From 2015 to 2019, online job postings for nurses increased by 15.1 percent. Meanwhile, the share of immigrants working as nurses increased by 27 percent between 2014 and 2018, compared to 13 percent among U.S.-born individuals.
- Immigrants are helping to fill critical teacher shortages across the state. Online job posting for K-12 teaching positions increased by 43.2 percent from 2015 to 2019, with demand for middle school teachers increasing by 51.3 percent during this time period. The share of immigrants working as teachers increased by 20.6 percent between 2014 and 2018.
- Immigrants are playing essential roles as social workers and behavioral health providers, with demand spiking due in part to the pandemic. Online job postings for social workers and counselors nearly tripled, with an increase of 174.7 percent. Immigrants accounted for nearly 8 percent of workers in these fields in 2018.