Issues of the Week: Reverse Migration, White-Collar Workers


Over the next five years, 200,000 immigrants from India and China are expected to return to their home countries, according to research by Duke University professor Vivek Wadhwa, who studies reverse immigration. The exodus of talent, reported in Monday’s USA Today, could have profound consequences for the economy as it tries to recover from the worst recession in decades. About one-quarter of American tech companies are founded in part or entirely by foreigners. Research by Wadhwa reveals that 52 percent of Silicon Valley startups were founded or co-founded by people born outside of the United States. Reverse migration could dramatically alter the rate of entrepreneurial activity, which will be essential to job creation and future economic growth. What is prompting some of the nation’s best and brightest minds to return to their home countries? Is there anything the U.S. can do slow the exodus?


While the impact of the recession on manufacturing and construction workers has been well documented, the nation’s white-collar workers have not escaped unscathed. According to the latest data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics, 44 percent of the 5.1 million Americans unemployed 27 weeks and longer came from management and professional occupations and from sales and office occupations. Prolonged unemployment among these higher-income professionals and office workers could further slow the recovery in retail and housing and keep the economy mired in a state of low or no growth. When and where will these professionals and office workers most likely see hiring begin to recover? What are some ways these job seekers might find positions faster?


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