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North America Watch

April 2, 2015 by The Bush Institute

In this edition of North America Watch, we call your attention to a collection of pieces dealing with immigration patterns, international competitiveness, and oil prices, each of which are critical to the progress of the economies of the United States, Canada, and Mexico.

*The Brookings Institute released an informative report on the demographic changes in the heartland of America. Taking Minneapolis-St. Paul as an example, Jennifer Bradley of the Aspen Institute explains how immigrant populations from Africa to Asia to Central America are driving the Twin Cities’ growth. At the same time, the longstanding white population, which makes up 78 percent of the region, is aging and declining.

The implications are important for the Twin Cities, but you could apply them to any region with a growing immigrant population and an aging, declining white population. As Bradley writes,

“These two demographic shifts have huge implications for how both the private and public sectors in Minnesota — and elsewhere — allocate their resources and make decisions about education, training, and hiring. The challenge will be to make sure that as the baby boomers retire and their jobs open up to a more diverse workforce, the young people in that workforce are ready to fill those jobs.”

*Expanding immigrant populations explain the growth of another major metropolitan region: Dallas-Fort Worth. Dallas is the driver in the region, the nation’s fourth-largest metro area and arguably the geographic hub of North America. This Dallas Morning News report explains that international migration is a key reason for the city’s growth.

As in Minneapolis-St. Paul, this phenomenon points to the positive impact immigration can have on a region and its economy.

*Ten years ago, Presidents George W. Bush, Paul Martin, and Vicente Fox met in Waco, Texas, to launch the most important initiative for the three nations of North America beyond the North American Free Trade Agreement.  The Security and Prosperity Partnership was an attempt to create more openness among the three nations of North America.

Looking back over the last decade, Bush Institute economic fellow Daniel Fisk reaches some conclusions about the lessons learned from this effort. He outlines in this Bush Institute blog entry several ways that North America could advance its economic competitiveness. At the top of the list is presidential leadership, which can break through bureaucratic squabbles.

*Of course, economic growth is hard to come by these days, no matter the political structure. The Toronto Globe and Mail  explains that Canada’s economy declined by 1 percent in January because of weak retail sales and declining oil prices.

Oil price declines are affecting a number of places across North America. The Texas economy, for example, has seen a slowdown in its once red-hot growth in jobs. The reason? Slumping oil prices.

Stay tuned on each of these fronts. They promise to continue shaping North America.