Projected Immigrant Increase

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COLUMBIA — The Pew Research Center released numbers that show immigrant workers are projected to drive U.S. workforce growth through at least 2035.

Due to large numbers of retiring Baby Boomers, U.S. born working-age adults with U.S. born parents are projected to only make up 66 percent of the U.S. workforce in 18 years. That is an eight percent decrease from 2015.

U.S. born workers with immigrant parents, meanwhile, are projected to increase by 13.6 million by 2035, and new immigrants are projected to increase by 4.6 million by the same year.

These numbers suggest a necessity to attract immigrant workers in order to grow local workforces. Barry Stoll, Executive Director for City of Refuge, said Columbia is doing just that.

“Refugees who have been placed in other areas of the country are finding out that Columbia, Missouri is a place where they can receive a lot more assistance,” Stoll said.

According to City of Refuge, mid-Missouri has more than 8,000 refugees and immigrants, and Columbia adds an average of 200 new immigrants each year.

Stoll said a lot of the incoming immigrants are relatives of those already here who hear about the opportunities in Columbia. He said these opportunities come out of Columbia’s relatively affordable housing market, medical help, transportation and many other assistance programs.

City of Refuge is one such program, which helps establish these incoming immigrants and connect them with local employers. Lori Stoll, Barry Stoll's wife who also works with the organization, said they are instrumental to helping incoming immigrants because they would not likely succeed without the connections.

“We’re like a parent holding the hand of a child and helping them thrive. We help them access all the great opportunities here,” Lori Stoll said.

She added Job Corps, Job Point, Family Health Center, Immigration Services and many other programs help these immigrants settle in and succeed here in the United States.

Barry Stoll said given the current political climate, it is important people know how helpful immigrants can be to a community.

“In the midst of all the controversy, we really need to recognize the value they add to our community not just economically but also culturally,” Barry Stoll said.

He also said employers here in Columbia are beginning to realize the same thing.

“We’ve had more and more of them who are telling us things like, ‘We would not be able to stay open if not for refugees. Bring us all the refugees that you can. Let us know when they are applying so that we can pay attention to that,’” Barry Stoll said.