Canada Admits 3 Times More Non-College Immigrants per Capita than the U.S.

Useful comparative data:

Many Americans want a more “merit‐​based” legal immigration system, and the country most commonly associated with this framework is Canada. Former‐​Attorney General Jeff Sessions, for example, characterized U.S. immigrants as largely “illiterate”, with “no skills”, and argued that America “should be like Canada” on immigration, evaluating them on their skills. But while Canada does favor economic‐​based paths to residence, it still admits far more non‐​college educated immigrant workers than the United States does as a proportion of its population—and it is planning to let in even more in the coming years.

According to Canada’s statistics, 244,800 non‐​college‐​educated immigrants over the age of 25 in the labor force entered Canada from 2015 to 2019, 0.65 percent of the Canadian population. During the same period, 729,797 immigrants with the same characteristics entered the United States, 0.22 percent of the U.S. population (Figure 1). In other words, Canada saw nearly three times more entries into its labor force from lower‐​skilled workers than the United States did in recent years on a per capita basis. This disparity would be greater if illegal immigrants were excluded from the calculation.

Despite admitting far more non‐​college‐​educated immigrant workers, Canada also admitted nearly 5 times as many immigrant workers with bachelor’s degrees and 4 times as many immigrant workers with advanced degrees as the United States did from 2015 to 2019 on a per capita basis. This means that overall, Canada admitted nearly 4 times more immigrant workers into its labor force than the United States did from 2015 to 2019. Note that the Canadian share of lesser‐​educated workers would be even higher if they were not also admitting so many higher skilled immigrants.

While it is true that Canada admits a much larger share of immigrants through economic channels than the United States does, it also makes it easier for them to qualify based on jobs where a college education is not required. It also admits as a share of its population more immigrants based on family ties and humanitarian grounds than the United States. Canada has just announced its largest ever legal immigration targets for the next several years, which will increase the rate of admission for both skilled and lesser‐​skilled workers.

While college‐​educated immigrants offer the United States the greatest productivity boost, the fact that a majority of job growth will come from jobs not requiring a bachelor’s degree provides a strong basis for the United States to increase both skilled and lesser‐​skilled immigration in tandem.

Source: Canada Admits 3 Times More Non-College Immigrants per Capita than the U.S.

About Andrew
Andrew blogs and tweets public policy issues, particularly the relationship between the political and bureaucratic levels, citizenship and multiculturalism. His latest book, Policy Arrogance or Innocent Bias, recounts his experience as a senior public servant in this area.

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