Report ties NH’s lower immigrant population to tech workforce shortage

Nationally, they account for 25% of tech jobs, but in NH it’s 15%

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One reason New Hampshire has so much trouble finding high-tech worker workers is that the state doesn’t have enough immigrants, since immigrants account for nearly 25 percent of tech workers nationwide, but just over 15 percent in New Hampshire.

The data comes from Technet, a national organization of technology CEOs and other top executives that promotes growth of the innovative economy. The group contends that more immigrants will mean more growth, nationwide and in the Granite State.

In New Hampshire, this growth is more important. That’s because the state is sixth in the percentage (10.3 percent) of the number of employed workers in tech, and in the top five for growth in IT job postings and the tech share of GSP, based on 2020 figures.

In absolute terms, the $11.2 billion tech contribution to the state’s economy ranks 28th, and the 72,000 tech workers ranks 24th. Not bad for a small state.

You don’t need statistics to know that such workers are hard to get anyway, but here is one anyway: The state’s STEM job-to-available-worker ratio was 9.4 to 1 in 2014, and it has been getting worse with time.

This is where immigrants come in. Immigrants account for 6.4 percent of the state’s total population, but 7.1 percent of overall employment and 15.3 percent of the STEM workforce. But nationwide, immigrants account for 24.3 percent of the STEM workforce. New Jersey is first, at 43.8 percent, and Massachusetts, at 29.6 percent, is fifth. New Hampshire also lags behind Connecticut and Rhode Island, but it is smack in the middle when it comes to ranking, at 25th.

(The data the report uses comes from the American Immigration Council, using census data. It uses the narrow definition of tech – the hard sciences, not counting health and social sciences. If you throw in those fields as well, immigrants account for a smaller percentage of the workforce – 19.2 percent nationwide and 10.9 percent in New Hampshire.)

But you don’t need numbers to know that one reason is that the state doesn’t have too many immigrants: 82,700, about a fifth of a percent of the U.S. immigration population, though the state’s entire population makes up about two-fifths of a percent of the total U.S. population. In other words, proportionately the state has half the immigration population as the nation

“Immigrants are already making important contributions to the state’s high-tech sector and overall economy,” concludes the report’s New Hampshire section. “It would be advisable to increase the number of high-skilled immigrants in the state in order to ensure that tech jobs can be filled, new jobs can be created, and the Granite State can truly fulfill its economic potential.”

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