NEW YORK—Refugees in the United States, some 15 percent of whom work in manufacturing jobs, stay in those jobs longer than do other employees, according to a new study by the Fiscal Policy Institute.
The report, commissioned by Tent, a nonprofit organization dedicated to helping businesses support refugees, studied employment trends in four areas that are major sites of refugee resettlement. Those areas were Atlanta, Phoenix, upstate New York and central Nebraska.
The study found that the average turnover rate for refugees at manufacturing companies was just 4 percent, far below the 11 percent for all employees. Across industries, 73 percent of the employers surveyed reported a higher retention rate for refugees than for other employees.
That higher retention rate would save businesses that hire refugees thousands of dollars. Citing a 2012 study by researchers at the Center for American Progress that replacing a worker typically costs businesses about one-fifth of the worker’s annual salary, the Fiscal Policy Institute report notes that for a full-time worker earning $13 an hour that translates to $5,200 per year saved for each worker that doesn’t have to be replaced.
That cost savings, the report adds, should give employers flexibility to invest in translation services, help with transportation, or other ways of helping refugees integrate into their workplaces.
Manufacturing is a key industry for refugees because such jobs typically require less fluency in English. The jobs held by refugees are often not the higher-wage, more-skilled manufacturing jobs, such as in the auto industry, but rather positions in plants that assemble furniture or mold plastic, where compensation may be near minimum wage, according to the report.