Opinions on Marijuana and the Workplace [2022 Study]
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Immigrants, friends or foes? Immigration is a polarizing topic. Here's what people think about immigration and its influence on the US labor market.
Friends or foes? Strangers or brothers? Outlanders or fellow citizens? Source of economic strength or driver of downturns?
Who are immigrants, and what do they mean to the US labor market?
Speaking of which… Consider Outlander. A historical drama series telling the story of Claire Randall, who suddenly moved back in time from 1945 to Scotland in 1743. Fans will know that her assimilation wasn’t easy. Not only was she not a clan member, but she was also English. Who was she for the Scottish Highlanders then? An immigrant? Or, as the title suggests, simply an outlander?
Or maybe you’re a fan of Steven Spielberg’s The Terminal (2004), whose main character can’t return to his homeland as it ceases to exist due to a revolutionary war. Trapped in legal limbo, he can't enter or leave the United States, so he’s forced to live in New York’s JFK airport as a castaway. For months no one seemed to be interested in his fate. How must he have felt then?
This brief pop culture introduction brings us to the main subject of our considerations for today. Immigration and immigrants.
But first, what is immigration? According to Merriam-Webster:
We all know the definition. And we all know someone who is an immigrant.
The United States is a nation built by immigrants. It is also often described as a country of immigrants. In fact, the majority of Americans are immigrants or descendants of immigrants.
“Remember, remember always, that all of us, and you and I especially, are descended from immigrants and revolutionists.”
Just take a look at the Founding Fathers. George Washington’s grandfather emigrated from Sulgrave, Northamptonshire, in England. Thomas Jefferson was of English and possibly Welsh descent and was born a British subject. Benjamin Franklin’s parents were English.
Let’s move to present times and consider a few famous faces. Natalie Portman was born in Jerusalem. Both her maternal and paternal grandparents were immigrants. Arnold Schwarzenegger is an Austrian-born American citizen. Jackie Chan? Born in British-controlled Hong Kong.
For sure, some of you weren’t even aware of their roots. And all of these people are American stars, our fellow citizens, right? They work, pay taxes, vote in elections, and enjoy the same rights as other native-born Americans.
And what do we think about other, less famous immigrants? Our friends and neighbors who do everything from driving a taxi to holding C-suite roles in Fortune 500 companies. How are they different?
At ResumeLab, we surveyed 1,000 respondents to get to the bottom of the issue of immigration. We investigated:
Without any further ado, let’s go on.
First things first. In our research, we asked respondents if they consider themselves native-born Americans or immigrants. As a result, we discovered that 61% identify as native citizens, while 39% are immigrants.
A relatively high percentage of respondents are leaning toward their immigrant roots. After all, the United States is home to the largest immigrant population in the world.
And there is one more thing to consider here. Not only people who move to America themselves may identify as immigrants. Also, their children, although born in the States, can think of themselves as immigrants. Moreover, even people with one immigrant parent may favor their foreign roots more and identify as immigrants.
And here’s some data to support it. According to the American Immigration Council, in 2019, 38.3 million people in the United States (12% of the country’s population) were native-born Americans with at least one immigrant parent.
But does public perception match the statistics? Here’s what our respondents told us when we asked what they thought the immigrant population of the US is:
Only one range is correct. And here’s the answer – the second bullet provides the right number.
So the majority (63%) was wrong. Only 37% of respondents correctly indicated the range with the number of immigrants living in the United States.
Let’s move on.
In our research, we also tested respondents’ knowledge of the legal status of immigrants. We asked what, in their opinion, the status of most immigrants living in the United States is.
Who’s right? The truth is that most immigrants are here legally.
So, the 48% of respondents who chose this option were correct.
But let’s dive deeper and focus on the numbers.
We wanted to know more about public perception of the number of illegal immigrants. But to make things easier, we didn’t ask about specific numbers but percentage ranges.
And again, as with the question about the number of immigrants, not everybody was right. This time, the first bullet provides the correct answer.
Summing this up–
Only 37% of Americans know how many immigrants live in the country, while only 42% correctly indicate the percentage of undocumented immigrants.
So clearly, there’s a disconnect between public perception and reality.
With all this data in mind and the general economic condition, we asked about one more thing – the future of immigration. Do our respondents think that immigration to the US should increase, decrease, or stay as it is?
Now that we know basic immigration statistics and have shed some light on respondents’ knowledge of this issue, let’s move forward. Next, we’ll examine attitudes and emotions about immigration.
“The greatest nations are defined by how they treat their weakest inhabitants.”
Is America the greatest nation then?
Turns out America is great indeed. We can say that most respondents treat immigrants well. How’s that?
Many people come to the US as immigrants. But what are their reasons for doing so? The list is long, and it includes, e.g., employment opportunities, desire to escape conflicts, environmental factors, educational purposes, or reunion with family.
So the main reason here is not preying on government support or financial grants, or is it?
According to 38% of respondents, immigrants come to the US precisely for this – taking advantage of social benefits and welfare. Conversely, 62% believe they just want to improve their lives by finding a better job, starting an education, or escaping the tense situation in their country of origin.
Whatever the reasons for coming to the States, it’s crucial to remember that the term immigrants covers those who entered the country legally as well as those who are here illegally. Documented immigrants have citizenship, residence permit, or work visa. So, theoretically, we can say that the authorities have legally accepted their presence and welcomed them into the country.
But what about those who are undocumented? Are they equally welcome?
As a part of the study, we asked respondents whether they support the deportation of undocumented immigrants living in the country.
At the end of this part of the survey, we presented respondents with a series of statements. We asked them whether they agreed or disagreed with the ideas presented. Their responses allowed us to learn more about public attitudes toward immigrants.
The last point caught our attention. People generally think positively about the issue and even see the advantages of immigration, but when presented with some negative sentences, they are still inclined to agree with them.
However, considering all the pros and cons, in general, more than 9 in 10 respondents (92%) believe that immigration is a good thing.
Let’s see if immigration is, in the opinion of survey takers, something positive for the labor market as well.
So the chances are high that you or someone you know works with people born in another country. Our findings support this.
More than 8 in 10 respondents (84%) say they have work colleagues who are immigrants.
Only 10% said they don’t work with not-American-born workers.
With so many foreign-born workers, we can be certain that immigration does influence the job market. The question here is – in what way?
When asked, “what sort of effect does immigration have on your job?” respondents said that immigration has:
So, according to the average American, the impact of immigration is not as bad as we’ve been led to believe.
So what about work-driven immigration? Should we increase, decrease or maintain it at it its present level? Here’s what our respondents told us:
Let’s dig deeper and verify the two biggest fears of anti-immigrant respondents – the impact of immigration on wages and job opportunities.
Money first. According to research participants, immigration makes wages:
This gives us around two-thirds of respondents (66%) convinced that immigration positively affects wages.
Now for job opportunities. According to respondents, when it comes to finding a job, immigration makes it:
Here, the votes for and against are more evenly balanced. 5 in 10 people (52%) believe that immigration makes it easier to find a job.
Conversely, 4 in 10 respondents (41%) think it’s harder to find a job because of immigrants. We have to give them some credit. After all, immigrants in a free and diverse labor market have the same chances of getting a job as native-born.
Is it easy to be an immigrant worker? Even if they assimilate and have the status of residents or working visas, immigrants still may be the target of unfair treatment. Practical experience again has seen the light thanks to our contributors.
The chances are that this mistreatment is all about discrimination. Therefore, we also wanted to shed some light on that matter. Our study reveals that:
Thus, the life of a working immigrant is not easy. And certainly not at the beginning of the career. We should give them credit for their devotion.
“Here’s to the security guards who maybe had a degree in another land. Here’s to the janitors who don’t understand English yet work hard despite it all. Here’s to the fast food workers who work hard to see their families smile. Here’s to the laundry man at the Marriott who told me with a sparkle in his eyes how he was an engineer in Peru. Here’s to the harvesters who live in fear of being deported for coming here to open the road for their future generation. Here’s to the taxi drivers from Nigeria, Ghana, Egypt, and India waking up at 4 am, calling home to hear the voices of their loved ones. Here is to their children, to the children who, despite it all, become artists, writers, teachers, doctors, lawyers, activists, and rebels. Here’s to international money transfer. For never forgetting home. Here’s to their children who carry the heartbeats of their motherland and, even in sleep, speak with pride about their fathers. Keep on.”
But there’s more about immigration and the labor market.
We presented respondents with a series of questions and asked them to give an opinion about each. To get the complete picture, we included both positive and negative perceptions of immigration and the labor market.
The first section covers positive aspects. The agreement (%) with each statement is as follows:
Again, respondents show a high degree of friendliness toward the newcomers. Their skills are appreciated, as well as their dedication to work. Their productivity and efficiency are also viewed positively.
But an unexpected flip happens when survey takers are presented with the potential negative influence of immigration on the labor market.
Strange things happen when people are forced to focus on the negatives. Suddenly they forget about the positives and are more willing to agree with the cons of immigration.
Can we summarize the above by saying that immigration in relation to the labor market has both positive and negative sides? It seems like a safe bet. Like any other social or economic phenomenon, it cannot be either black or white.
Speaking of the economy… Immigration’s influence on it is well worth discussing.
“Every aspect of the American economy has profited from the contributions of immigrants.”
Do people agree with the 35th president’s words? Based on the responses we received, the answer is a definite yes.
Let’s admit it – the above represents positive views of immigration and the economy. But it doesn’t mean that we didn’t confront our respondents with negative ones because we did. However, things get a little complicated. This time the opposing theses are also popular myths about immigration and immigrants. We have reserved a separate section for this.
Before we start, let’s say a few words about immigration and immigrants myths. Like any phenomenon that arouses extreme emotions and is ever-present, immigration has many opponents as its supporters. The multidimensionality of this topic leads to myths and assumptions. People come to hasty conclusions without verifying data, spreading unproven and harmful ideas. So, what immigration myths do people tend to believe in?
Below you can check out the most popular falsehoods that our respondents agree with.
Let’s now deal with those myths.
It’s time to update our beliefs. Hopefully, the above is eye-opening. And if you’re still not convinced, scroll down to the Sources section below to see for yourself.
A lie that is repeated a thousand times becomes the truth. This is why people believe unverified information passed on by family and friends or spread through fake news. However, double-checking and validating the data with reliable sources is always a good idea.
Summarizing this section–
It’s not worth believing in everything we hear.
Let’s now summarize what we’ve learned today.
Our survey certainly showed many unknown facts about views and feelings. At the same time, it showed how many people agree with popular myths about immigrants. Thus, getting involved in the fight against this misinformation is definitely worth it.
The conclusion is simple – immigrants are America, and America is immigrants.
“Once, I thought to write a history of the immigrants in America. Then I discovered that the immigrants were American history.”
The findings presented were obtained by surveying 943 respondents using a bespoke online polling tool. All respondents included in the study passed an attention-check question. They were asked a series of questions about their opinions on immigration and its influence on the economy and labor market. These included yes/no questions, scale-based questions relating to levels of agreement with a statement, questions that permitted the selection of multiple options from a list of potential answers, and questions that allowed open responses.
The data we are presenting rely on self-reports from respondents. As experience is subjective, we understand that there are many potential limitations with self-reported data as some participants and their answers might be affected by recency, selective memory, attribution, exaggeration, self-selection, non-response, or voluntary response bias.
Some questions and responses have been rephrased or condensed for clarity and ease of understanding for readers. In some cases, the percentages presented may not add up to 100 percent; depending on the case, this is either due to rounding or due to responses of “neither/neutral/unknown” not being presented.
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