Immigration and Who’s Getting the Jobs

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I’ve been meaning to highlight this for a few days, but I wanted to see if the Bureau of Labor Statistics has the data at the state level and do a little bit of digging on the Census’s site to see if there was anything comparable, but it was “no” on both counts:

… since December 2007, according to the Household Survey, only 790,000 native born American jobs have been added. Contrast that with the 2.1 million foreign-born Americans who have found a job over the same time period.

In August alone, “698,000 native-born Americans lost their job,” whereas 204,000 foreign-born workers “got a job.”

As with every topic of public interest, the nexus of immigration and employment is complicated, but we don’t give it anywhere near enough attention.  Sure, some of this disparity may be attributable to the retirement of native-born Baby Boomers and the influx of immigrants.  On the other hand, constraining immigration while Baby Boomers exit the market might help to turn around stagnant salaries, as each worker’s value goes up.

At the very least, we should think twice before pursuing policies (like driver’s licenses for illegal immigrants) that are sure to draw even more foreign-born workers with questionable connections to the state or country to compete for jobs that aren’t being created quickly enough as it is.



  • Rhett Hardwick

    I visited a construction site in Natick, MA today. It was a large site and I needed directions. the fifth person I asked was the first to speak English fluently. I noticed that no job requiring a license (operating engineer, etc.) seem to be filled by a Hispanic. It has been noted by others that first we imported cheap goods, now we import cheap labor (haven’t we always?) The developer’s comment was “Welcome to my world”. I had to examine my own bias and wonder if I would have reacted differently if they spoke Hungarian.

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