Top Five Jobs Immigrants Get Done

Immigrants have been part of the United States’ economic and cultural profile for as long as the concept of the country existed. The importance of expat workers resonate today—immigrant workers still fill crucial and growing occupations.

Expats can be seen everywhere—part of a team of basement remodeling contractors in Kansas City, staffing busy hospitals in Connecticut, and leading tech startups in Silicon Valley. The following are some of the industries that benefit the most from the availability and skills of immigrants.


As high as 59 percent of plasterers and stucco masons, 49.2 percent of drywall installers, and 42.6 percent of painters and paperhangers are of a foreign origin. If there’s basement remodeling done somewhere, chances are immigrants are part of the contractor’s team. Even in trades that require higher education, including building inspection, foreign workers are also present.

Data from surveys show that immigrants tend to fill up trades with the most vacancies, such as framing crews. Florida, California, New York, and Texas have the biggest reliance on immigrant labor in their construction industries, as 30 to 40 percent of their personnel are born in other countries.

Physicians and Surgeons

Seeing an expat nurse or personal care aide is an American trope by now. Expat physicians and surgeons are also becoming a more common sight. A famous case of an undocumented worker who became a licensed neurosurgeon even made headlines a few years ago.

As early as 2016, several reports stated that 25 percent of all physicians and surgeons in the U.S. are immigrants. The number may easily double if all highly skilled workers are allowed to attain the education requirements and licenses required of them per state and federal policies.

Farm Workers

Red Tractor

California’s farm labor movement is one of the main examples people bring up when there are discussions of the importance of foreign labor to U.S. agriculture. Migrants got the job done during those times—and even up to now.

Expats fill agricultural vacancies that U.S. born workers decline. It’s no surprise that documented and undocumented immigrants fill crucial roles in different types of farms. Farms that produce berries and easily-bruised fruits, normal fruits, and vegetables, as well as meat and dairy farms, all look for immigrants to help fill out spaces that their fellow Americans could not. Organizations estimate that about 78 percent of foreign farm workers uprooted to work in the U.S.

Food Preparation, Service, and Hospitality

Stop by a fast-food place or a proper sit-down restaurant and you’re likely to encounter foreign servers or cooks. Studies indicate a population as high as 1.1 million undocumented immigrants working in U.S. restaurants in 2014.

Immigrants normally work in the food service business as wait staff and dishwashers. Expats are also found at bars or inside the kitchen as baristas, bartenders, and cooks. Your local restaurant’s prep line, cash box, or parking may also be manned by expats working as line chefs, cashiers, and valets.

Other players in the hospitality industry also benefit greatly from the presence of immigrants. Immigrants represent one-third of the workforce in hotel and restaurants across the country.

Expats face tougher policies more than ever, but there’s no denying that their contribution to the U.S. economy is big. Immigrant-owned businesses have amassed $1.1 trillion in spending power in addition to employing eight million people regardless of their country of origin.

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