Report provides a demographic and socioeconomic profile of the 2.8 million immigrants working in the U.S. healthcare industry

This Spotlight provides a demographic and socioeconomic profile of foreign-born health-care workers residing in the U.S. (updating an earlier Migration Policy Institute report from 2020). Primary data sources are the U.S. Census Bureau’s 2021 American Community Survey and the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. The report provides data for two broad categories of workers: health-care practitioners and technical workers, and health-care support workers. Among topics covered in the report are: historical trends and projections; national and state data; gender breakdowns; region and country of birth; educational backgrounds; naturalization status; language proficiency; visa pathways; and health insurance coverage. Key findings include:  1) Immigrants account for disproportionately high shares of essential workers and were on the front lines as part of the U.S. response to the pandemic; 2) Nearly 2.8 million immigrants were employed as health-care workers in 2021, accounting for more than 18 percent of the 15.2 million people in a health care occupation; 3) Immigrants in the health-care sector hold a variety of legal statuses, including naturalized citizens, legal permanent residents, temporary workers, and recipients of TPS and DACA status; 4) The foreign-born were especially over-represented among certain health-care occupations such as physicians and surgeons as well as home health aides; 5) Compared to all immigrant workers, those employed in the health-care field were more likely to speak English fluently, be naturalized citizens, and hold health insurance coverage; and 6) Despite the need for foreign-born health care workers, the U.S. immigration system does not prioritize their recruitment.  The need for foreign-born health care workers is likely to increase as the overall U.S. population continues to age and current health-care workers continue to retire. (Robert Like, MD, MS

Immigrant Health Care Workers in the United States
Migration Policy Institute, April 7, 2023, 9 pp.
Author: Jeanne Batalova