New data reveals Afghan professionals already contribute over $33M to U.S. economy annually; swift legislative action needed to secure their future
NEW YORK — Two years since Operation Allies Welcome evacuated over 80,000 Afghans to the United States in the wake of the Taliban takeover, Afghan refugees’ ability to safely live and work in the U.S. is in jeopardy. Upwardly Global calls on Congress to take swift action by passing the Afghan Adjustment Act, which would carve out a pathway to permanent status for Afghans who have already made substantial contributions to the U.S. economy and society.
“Two years have passed, yet the memory of the difficult journey our Afghan neighbors undertook in their pursuit of safety remains fresh,” says Jina Krause-Vilmar, Upwardly Global President and CEO. “Upwardly Global has worked tirelessly to welcome them into our workforce and communities, where they have so much to contribute. With gratitude, Upwardly Global is proud to be of service to Afghan newcomers, who we recognize still await a path to lasting stability.”
The Afghan Adjustment Act, which was recently reintroduced in Congress, is a bipartisan bill that would help expedite pathways to permanent legal status for Afghan newcomers, expand eligibility requirements for the Special Immigrant Visa program, and create a new interagency task force to help relocate at-risk allies left behind in Afghanistan.
The bill’s reintroduction comes as Upwardly Global recently announced data on the economic impact this population has had on the U.S. economy over the last two years.
Among approximately 41,000 working-age Afghan arrivals since 2021, 10,250 possess professional experience and degrees, with 25% holding a master’s degree or higher. Since August 2021, Upwardly Global has supported 550 Afghan job seekers into skill-aligned careers, with annual salaries totaling over $33.1 million and a total income gain of over $30.7 million. Upwardly Global’s most recent data includes:
- Average salary per placement is over $60,000 per year.
- Average time to placement is 128 days, or just over four months. On average, it can take six to 18 months for internationally trained professionals to find skill-aligned work in the U.S. With focused employment support and coaching, Afghan newcomers are able to find thriving-wage jobs relatively soon after arrival.
- Top industries for placement are: business, logistics, and operations; information technology; engineering and architecture; and nonprofit and government.
- Top roles include: Accountant, Civil Engineer, IT Help Desk Technician, Case Manager, Program Manager, and IT Network Engineer.
If all 10,250 Afghan newcomer professionals found skill-aligned jobs, the total projected economic contributions — based on the average annual salary we have seen thus far — would total over $618 million per year. The 1,500 Afghan professionals that Upwardly Global is currently supporting through its individualized Career Coaching Program are alone poised to contribute nearly $90 million in annual earnings to the economy once all secure job placements.
Helping Afghan women job seekers
While Afghan women possess significant professional expertise, less than 18% of our Afghan placements represent female job seekers. Upwardly Global’s Women’s Economic Power initiative aims to address the challenges faced by immigrant and refugee women whose marginalization hinders their ability to assume leadership roles, influence decision-making, and generate wealth.
A recent survey by Upwardly Global found that 43.5% of women job seekers dropped out of the program in 2022 due to the demands of childcare, survival jobs, and elderly care. In the U.S., immigrant women face a lack of childcare networks typically available in their countries of origin. Upwardly Global is working to reengage Afghan women job seekers and advance women’s workforce inclusion.
Our multipronged approach to support Afghan newcomers
In addition to its industry-specific coaching, Upwardly Global has focused its support for Afghan newcomers on: a) building the capacity of government agencies, workforce partners, and community organizations to provide employment support; b) shifting narratives and advocating for policy priorities that advance inclusion; and c) promoting equitable employer practices like diverse hiring, promotion, and retention initiatives.
Upwardly Global’s multipronged initiative to support Afghan newcomers has garnered national attention for its model of workforce inclusion during a humanitarian crisis, with honorable mentions in Fast Company’s 2023 World Changing Ideas Awards and the Ragan Crisis Communications Awards.
Refugee and immigrant job seekers possess valuable, often overlooked skills that could greatly benefit U.S. employers. This untapped potential has the power to rejuvenate the U.S. workforce and economy, especially in challenging times. Upwardly Global continues to leverage its experience working with employers to recruit and train diverse talent.
About Upwardly Global
Upwardly Global’s mission is to eliminate employment barriers for low-income immigrant and refugee professionals and to advance their inclusion in the U.S. economy. The organization has long been committed to supporting Afghan refugees, having served several hundred Iraqi and Afghan Special Immigrant Visa (SIV) recipients over the past decade. For more information about our support for Afghan newcomers, please contact firstname.lastname@example.org.