The Economic Benefits of the Empire State Licensing Act

Immigrants in New York State’s Workforce 

May 16, 2022

New research from the American Immigration Council, Economic Benefits of the Empire State Licensing: Immigrants in New York State’s Workforce, highlights the crucial role of immigrants and refugees in New York’s workforce, as well as the need to reduce barriers to professional and occupational licenses for all New York residents. New York law currently prohibits many immigrants from obtaining state occupational and professional licenses, certificates, and registrations solely due to their immigration status. The Empire State Licensing Act would remove such barriers, expanding economic opportunities to all residents and in the process, help meet the state’s pressing workforce needs.

Key findings from the report include:

        • In New York’s workforce, new Americans already punch above their weight. In 2019, immigrants and refugees made up 22 percent of the state’s population, but 27.2 percent of the workforce.
        • There is a growing demand for workers across the state. From 2017 to 2021, the number of online job postings increased by 38.2 percent. Demand for bilingual workers across critical fields like healthcare, social work, and education also increased.
        • Immigrants and refugees are already helping meet demand, despite barriers. Despite the time-consuming and expensive barriers to licensure, in 2019, 42.7 percent of nursing assistants, 25.7 percent of healthcare social workers, and 20.3 percent of teaching assistants in New York were immigrants and refugees.

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