National Data | What Job Rebound? Immigrants Displace Americans at Record Clip

The unemployment rate held at 9.7 percent in February, according to the Labor Department's estimate on Friday, as payrolls shrank by a less than expected 36,000 jobs. The figures suggest a stable job market with little or no new hiring.

Indeed, economists believe that the month's horrible weather may have increased job losses by as much as 100,000. Implication: absent the snow, the economy likely would have seen a net job gain in February, for only the second time since the recession began two years ago.

A snow job? Perhaps. But the Household Survey, which does a better job of canvassing small businesses, home based entrepreneurs, and—more importantly (from our perspective)—illegal aliens, reported a gain of 308,000 new positions.

While considerably below January's 541,000 job pop, this is still far above the level needed to reduce unemployment.

That's the good news. The bad news: the job figures also show a resumption of American worker displacement.  Despite being overrepresented in occupations impacted by weather— construction, agriculture, and landscaping,  etc.—in February, Hispanics gained jobs at nearly four times the rate of Non-Hispanics:

The VDARE.com American Worker Displacement Index (VDAWDI) rose by 0.44 percent January—to a record 126.1:

VDAWDI for February 2010 is calculated like this:

  •  For every 100.0 Hispanics employed in January 2001 there were 123.1 in February 2010

  • For every 100.0 non-Hispanics employed in January 2001 there were 97.6 in February 2010

  • VDAWDI equals 126.1 (=100 X 123.1/97.6)

Hispanic employment is still the best proxy we have for month-to-month trends in foreign born labor.

As we reported last month, the BLS now devotes a table of its monthly report explicitly to immigrant and native-born employment. Unfortunately, the data are not seasonally adjusted, making month to month comparisons impossible.

Nevertheless, the displacement of native-born Americans by immigrants is clear when juxtaposing February 2010 with February 2009:

Employment Status by Nativity, Feb. 2009-Feb. 2010

(numbers in 1000s; not seasonally adjusted)

 

Feb. 2009

Feb. 2010

Change

% Change

 

Foreign born, 16 years and older

Civilian population

34,714

35,315

601

1.7%

Employed

20,976

21,102

126

0.6%

Unemployed

2,414

2,752

338

14.0%

   Unemployment rate

10.3

11.5

1.2

11.7%

Not in labor force

11,324

11,461

137

1.2%

 

Native born, 16 years and older

Civilian population

200,199

201,683

1,484

0.7%

Employed

119,129

116,102

-3,027

-2.5%

Unemployed

11,285

13,239

1,954

17.3%

   Unemployment rate

8.7

10.2

1.5

17.2%

Not in labor force

69,785

72,342

2,557

3.7%

Source: BLS, "The Employment Situation – February 2010," March 5, 2010. Table A-7. PDF  

 

Unlike January, when foreign and native-born workers both suffered job losses relative to the same month last year, the groups moved in different directions in February. Native employment fell by about 3.0 million, or 2.5 percent. But foreign-born employment rose by 126,000, or 0.6 percent from last February.

Over the past year the number of unemployed native-born workers rose faster than unemployed foreign-born—by 17.3 percent versus 14.0 percent. This occurred despite the fact that the native-born left the labor force in far greater numbers: More than two and one half million natives bailed out in the 12 months ending February 2010, versus only 137,000 immigrants.

The growth rate of native labor force dropouts  (3.7 percent) was more than three times that of their foreign-born counterparts (1.2 percent).

Labor force dropouts are not counted as "unemployed" although most are too discouraged to even look for work.

And then there is the relentless growth in foreign-born working age population (16 years and older.). It rose 1.7 percent from February 2009 to February 2010, or by more than twice the 0.7 percent rise in the comparable native-born population during the same period.

Coming at a time when many illegals are returning to Mexico, this highlights the continued role of legal immigration in driving population and workforce growth despite the recession.

American workers desperately need an immigration moratorium.

Edwin S. Rubenstein (email him) is President of ESR Research Economic Consultants in Indianapolis.