New Data From Upwardly Global Projects Afghan Newcomers to Contribute $646M to U.S. Economy

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NEW YORK — A year after 90,000 Afghans arrived in the U.S. as a result of the military withdrawal from Afghanistan and the fall of Kabul, new data from Upwardly Global — a workforce development nonprofit organization — finds that professionals in this group are projected to contribute $646 million in earnings annually to the U.S. economy if adequate career pathways and opportunities are made available.

Today, Upwardly Global is excited to release new data highlighting the potential economic contributions of newly arrived Afghan professionals within their first year of employment in the U.S. The data underscored the need to ensure this population has access to career opportunities that meet them at their skill level.

“Workforce inclusion is essential to our Afghan allies restarting their lives and careers in the U.S. If Afghan professionals — those with specialized training and skills — are able to continue their careers in the U.S., they will have a tremendous impact on our economy,” said Jina Krause-Vilmar, CEO and President of Upwardly Global. “We are eager to commit ourselves to supporting their inclusion in our workforce and communities where they have so much to contribute.”

Afghans have the potential to make significant contributions to the U.S. economy by addressing labor shortages in key industries and investing in local communities.

Key findings from the data include:

  • Afghan refugees accessing Upwardly Global employment services have been placed in jobs within 136 days on average and earning an average of $63,000/year.
  • If Afghan newcomer professionals are met with inclusive employment opportunities and access to skills-aligned job positions, their projected economic contributions would total $646 million per annum.
  • Since August 2021, Upwardly Global has placed 226 Afghan newcomer professionals into skills-aligned positions, with combined annual salaries totaling over $14 million.
    • Of the 41,040 working-age Afghans, Upwardly Global projects that 25% are professionals with college degrees. Of all Afghan newcomer professionals in Upwardly Global’s program, 53% possess a bachelor’s degree and 26% a master’s degree or higher. Data is similar for men and women.
    • Following Upwardly Global’s program, the top industries for placement include: information technology, engineering and architecture, and business logistics and operations (BLO).
    • Top job titles included: Accountant, Civil Engineer, IT Help Desk Technician, Case Manager, Program Manager, and IT Network Engineer.

The unique skill set of this population is often overlooked by domestic employers, which leads to an untapped potential that could otherwise reinvigorate the U.S. workforce and economy in difficult times, according to our findings. Upwardly Global has worked to form partnerships to educate employers on the skills of Afghans and other immigrant populations.

“Coming from an immigrant household, I’ve seen firsthand both the challenges immigrants face as well as the resilience and grit with which they meet said challenges,” said Hector Mujica, Head of Economic Opportunity at and Upwardly Global partner. “I’m proud that through funding and training, like the Google Career Certificates, we’ve been able to support Upwardly Global to better serve immigrants and refugees with the tools they need to increase their economic mobility.”

Upwardly Global has observed that issues that are consistent in most job-seeker journeys — such as managing language barriers, resume gaps, and a lack of professional networks — are often compounded with other unique factors, including challenges that arise due to cultural barriers, race, and gender. These observations are paramount to our employment efforts for Afghan newcomer professionals

To learn more about Upwardly Global’s work with Afghan refugees, visit our website.


Upwardly Global, the first and longest-serving organization dedicated to advancing the inclusion of immigrant and refugee professionals into the workforce in the U.S., has long been committed to this effort in support of Afghan refugees, having built out a new program incorporating our experience serving several hundred Iraqi and Afghan Special Immigrant Visa (SIV) recipients over the past decade.

To download a pdf of the above infographic, click here.

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