Friday, December 19, 2014
Despite recent job growth, native employment still below 2007: BLS data shows that all net employment growth has gone to immigrants
Data published by the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) on its website shows that all of the net gain in employment since 2007 has gone to immigrants (legal and illegal), also referred to as the foreign-born. Native employment has still not returned to pre-recession levels, while immigrant employment already exceeds pre-recession levels. Furthermore, even with recent job growth, the number of natives not in the labor force (neither working nor looking for work) continues to increase. In addition, the BLS reports that 23.1 million adult (16-plus) immigrants (legal and illegal) were working in November 2007 and 25.1 million were working in November 2014 — a two million increase. For natives, 124.01 million were working in November 2007 compared to 122.56 million in November 2014 — a 1.46 million decrease. Although all of the employment growth has gone to immigrants, natives accounted for 69% of the growth in the 16 and older population from 2007 to 2014. The number of immigrants working returned to pre-recession levels by the middle of 2012, and has continued to climb. But the number of natives working remains almost 1.5 million below the November 2007 level. More recently, natives have done somewhat better. However, even with job growth in the last two years (November 2012 to November 2014), 45% of employment growth has gone to immigrants, though they comprise only 17% of the labor force. It will take many years of sustained job growth just to absorb the enormous number of people, primarily native-born, who are currently not working and return the country to the labor force participation rate of 2007. If we continue to allow in new immigration at the current pace or choose to increase the immigration level, it will be even more difficult for the native-born to make back the ground that they have lost in the labor market.