Heartland Hospitality: Serving the Needs of the Midwest Economy through Immigration

Sara McElmurry
Date of Publication: 
August, 2017
Source Organization: 

This paper looks at five key challenges facing the hospitality industry in the Midwest-an industry that is responsible for 10 percent of all jobs in the region. For a variety of reasons, the industry is facing a significant challenge in filling jobs. In some cases, businesses are closing for lack of workers. The shortage of workers overall has led to a dependence on immigrant workers, but there is limited availability of immigrant and non-immigrant visas to meet employer needs. The various temporary worker visas that do exist are insufficient, or are not a good fit for the year-around needs of many employers. Temporary visas also are prone to abuse by unscrupulous employers. The third challenge, resulting from the first two, is a dependence on undocumented workers. The hospitality industry depends on undocumented workers to a greater extent than any other industry, including construction and agriculture. Through stepped-up deportations, the industry could lose close to a million workers, with a resulting decrease in related employment of between 4 and 6.8 million nationwide. A fourth challenge is the prospect of mandatory use of the E-Verify program, to ensure workers are legally authorized to work, without other reforms to ensure a legal workforce. A fifth challenge is the lack of a visa that could be used by immigrant entrepreneurs to start new businesses. The report discusses some of the federal legislation that could help address these challenges, and makes a set of recommendations informed by various industry stakeholders-including employers, trade associations, and labor advocates. (Maurice Belanger, Maurice Belanger Associates)

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McElmurry, S. (2017). Heartland Hospitality: Serving the Needs of the Midwest Economy through Immigration (p. 34). Chicago, IL: The Chicago Council on Global Affairs. Retrieved from https://globalaffairs.org/sites/default/files/report_immigration_hospitality_170824.pdf