The Economy, Talent, and Immigration: Growing Economy, Tightening Labor Market Contrast with Restrictive Immigration Policy

August 29, 2018

The House has just 19 workdays before the November election to keep the government running as other important measures are deferred by a Senate focused on approving judicial nominations.

Unlike last year, very few pieces of must-pass legislation await congressional action, aside from a continuing resolution on appropriations and extending the National Flood Insurance Program, which expires on November 30, 2018.

Steady outlook for growth with tighter labor markets and wage gains:  According to the latest Conference Board survey, economic growth is expected to be a strong 3.3 percent for the remainder of 2018 and a solid 2.9 percent for all of 2019, significantly faster than the 1.9 percent annual average over the past two years.

  • A separate survey by the Philadelphia Federal Reserve expects the unemployment rate to fall from 3.9 percent to an average 3.6 percent in 2019 even though average monthly payroll job growth is expected to cool from 195,000 in 2018 to 168,000 in 2019.

  • U.S. salary budgets are projected to rise by an average of 3.2 percent in 2019, up from an increase of 3.1 percent for 2018, according to the latest WorldatWork survey.

  • Average global economic growth is forecast to increase 4.0 percent in 2019.

HR Policy's talent initiativeJobipediacontinues to expand:  The Association's free career advice website for college students and recent graduates is on pace to record another extraordinary year, expecting to attract nearly six million unique visitors to the website.

  • A new Jobipedia website was launched in August.  Jobipedia chair Cheryl Johnson, Chief Human Resources Officer of Caterpillar, Inc., said, “I’m very excited about the launch of our new website, which is a step towards ensuring we remain relevant to our next generation of job seekers.  Our team of hiring experts representing 30 companies will continue to provide essential advice in response to questions submitted to the website.”

  • Informational webinars will be hosted for interns at member companies and among college students via career offices, and several national sessions will also be hosted throughout the fall.  Sara Bowers Appl, Director of Talent Acquisition at WR Grace, said the webinar’s "messaging and delivery was phenomenal and on-point.  The internship team raved about the presentation!”

  • Connect with college students and recent grads: If you would like to learn more about how your company can participate in Jobipedia, please contact Mike McGuiness at mzmcguiness@hrpolicyfoundation.org.

With DACA still in litigation limbo, work-related immigration issues are out of the spotlight but no less volatile as the Trump administration appears to be carrying out its strategy of undercutting much-needed visas through applying greater scrutiny and complexity to the application process.

  • Full court press: Federal courts in California, New York, and Washington, D.C. ruled that the DACA termination was carried out unlawfully and ordered injunctions to keep the program running.  A separate lawsuit in a Texas federal court argues that DACA is unconstitutional and should be discontinued.

  • DACA in danger: If the federal judge in Texas orders U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) to stop accepting DACA renewals—and if that order is not stayed—the government could stop accepting renewal applications outright, effectively shuttering the program for now.  Other possible outcomes include (1) DACA continuing in parts of the country but not in others and (2) DACA continuing throughout the country for the time being.

  • All roads lead to SCOTUS: Barring unexpected legislative action, DACA's survival will likely be decided by the Supreme Court this spring.

  • Work visas under scrutiny: Following President Trump's "Buy American and Hire American" executive order, three federal agencies—USCIS, the Department of Labor, and the Department of Justice—activated a number of under-the-radar policies, such as intensifying the monitoring and enforcement of H-1B employees, intended to slow processing of work visas.

  • By a thousand cuts: Visa applications are down; the costs and effort required to submit them are up.  Employers are feeling the pressure, accomplishing what the Trump administration initially intended to do with rulemakings without actually issuing proposals.

  • Outlook: Proposed rulemakings may have taken a backseat to the quieter strategy of applying minor tweaks to work visa programs that make using them more difficult.