Results of Study Indicate That the J-1 Summer Work Travel Program Delivers Significant Public Policy Benefits and Strengthens the U.S. Economy

ROCKVILLE, MD., September 11, 2017 – EurekaFacts, an independent market research and analysis firm, conducted a comprehensive study of the Department of State’s J-1 Summer Work Travel (SWT) program. SWT is one of fourteen categories of the J-1 Exchange Visitor Program. SWT brings more than 100,000 enrolled college students from 100 countries to the United States during their summer university breaks. These students typically work in seasonal locations, at amusement parks, ski destinations, and hospitality small businesses during their peak seasons.

The assessment included a comprehensive review of the program, surveys of international participants from the past five years, interviews and surveys of U.S. host employers, and labor market statistics for the areas where the program operates.

Key findings of the research show that the program delivers significant benefits to the U.S. in terms of public diplomacy:

  • SWT participants leave the program with higher regard and understanding of the United States.
  • 76 percent of SWT participants reported a higher overall regard for the U.S.
  • Three in four participants say their opinions of American people became more positive.
  • 73 percent reported cultural exchange as their top reason for participating; only 3.1% reported earning money as their top reason.

Key findings also show that there is no statistical relationship between the number of SWT participants and U.S. youth unemployment rates.

The analysis suggests that SWT participants supplement the existing American workforce rather than compete for existing jobs with local workers.

Additionally, key findings show that the program meets the internal needs of American small businesses:

  • 97 percent of host employers reported a shortage of seasonal workers.
  • 50 percent reported that the absence of SWT students would have a major negative impact on their business.
  • One quarter reported it likely they would not be able to stay open.

The analysis also shows that the estimated total contribution of SWT participants to the U.S. economy in 2016 was $509 million ($5,300 per participant).

The study was led by Public Affairs research director Alec Ulasevich PhD, and Malinda Rhone, PhD, and company principal Jorge Restrepo, MGA following the international quality for market, public opinion and social research ISO 20252, to which EurekaFacts is certified. To access a copy of the full report, go to: https://www.eurekafacts.com/SWTimpact.