The Role Of Immigrants In The U.S. Labour Market: An Update
People born outside of the United States represent a substantial and growing segment of the U.S. labour force that is, people with a job or looking for one, says the Congressional Budget Office (CBO).
In 2009, 24 million members of the labour force more than one in seven were foreign born, up from 21 million in 2004.
However, the growth of the foreign-born labour force was much slower between 2004 and 2009 than between 1994 and 2004.
In that earlier period, the size of the foreign-born labour force grew at an average annual rate of more than 5 per cent, whereas from 2004 to 2009, the rate was about 2 per cent.
As a share of the total, the foreign-born labour force grew from 10.0 per cent in 1994 to 14.5 per cent in 2004 and to 15.5 per cent in 2009.
Among members of the foreign-born labour force in the United States in 2009, about half went to the US before 1994. In 2009, 40 per cent of the foreign-born labour force was from Mexico and Central America, and more than 25 per cent was from Asia.
In 2009, over half of the foreign-born workers from Mexico and Central America did not have a high school diploma or GED credential, as compared with just 6 per cent of native-born workers. In contrast, nearly half of the foreign-born workers from places other than Mexico and Central America had at least a bachelor's degree, as compared with 35 per cent of native-born workers.
To a considerable extent, educational attainment determines the role of foreign-born workers in the labour market, says the CBO:
In 2009, 70 per cent of workers born in Mexico and Central America were employed in occupations that have minimal educational requirements, such as construction labourer and dishwasher; only 23 per cent of native-born workers held such jobs.
On average, the weekly earnings of men from Mexico and Central America who worked full time were just over half those of native-born men; women from Mexico and Central America earned about three-fifths of the average weekly earnings of native-born women.
Source: Report, The Role of Immigrants in the U.S. Labor Market: An Update, Congressional Budget Office, July 2010.
For text: http://www.cbo.gov/doc.cfm?index=11691
For more on Economic Issues: http://www.ncpa.org/sub/dpd/index.php?Article_Category=17
First published by the National Center for Policy Analysis, United States
FMF Policy Bulletin/ 10 August 2010
FMF Policy Bulletin
Publish date: 18 August 2010
The views expressed in the article are the author’s and are not necessarily shared by the members of the Foundation.