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Immigrants to the Rescue?

Immigrants to the Rescue?Is one answer to our economic problems more immigrants? PriceWaterhouseCoopers reveals this week that CEO confidence in the year ahead is down for the first time since 2003. What's stressing out chief executives? Obviously, the economy, but a survey from consulting firm Accenture released this week suggests that C-suite executives had other concerns as well:
According to the findings, executives perceive the top five threats to business success as competition (cited by 73 percent of executives), the health of the global economy and the inability to attract and retain the best talent (67 percent each), company reputation (62 percent) and the inability to develop new products and services (51 percent).
Considering the flame-breathing anti-immigration rhetoric coming from some pundits and politicians, perhaps the most surprising of those concerns is attracting and retaining top talent. Listening to Lou Dobbs, you'd think companies were beating back droves of immigrant job seekers.

The idea that more skilled immigrants would be an asset rather than a drain on business has some powerful backers. Microsoft Chairman, Bill Gates, has called on politicians to let in more workers, and today, in comments critical of the proposed economic stimulus package, New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg echoed those sentiments while offering a critique of what he characterized as political pandering:

Bloomberg said Wednesday the White House and Congress are negotiating a shortsighted economic stimulus package and should focus instead on encouraging immigration and helping strapped homeowners. "We can't borrow our way out of this. The jig is up," Bloomberg said during a speech to the U.S. Conference of Mayors.
Among other measures such as "financial counseling, modified loans and, in some cases, subsidized loans to homeowners," Bloomberg urged the government to,

Overhaul immigration laws to bring more workers in, not keep workers out. "Illegal immigration has become the pandering politician's best friend," he said. "We have to stop turning away people that our economy needs."

It's a testament to how seriously Bloomberg takes the immigration question that, in the current climate, he mentions it alongside fixes for the housing market. Maybe h's on to something.

(Image of Mayor Bloomberg by David Berkowitz, CC 2.0)