National Data | A Cold February for White Workers
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[See also Paul Craig Roberts: Jobs Update: More Jobs For Bartenders, As Factory Workers Lose Jobs]

Bone chilling cold and a crippling northeastern snowstorm couldn't derail the American Job Machine last month. Payroll employment rose by a better-than expected 248,000, while the unemployment crept up to 4.8 percent from a five-year low of 4.7 percent in January.

The "other" employment survey, based on households rather than businesses, shows that those job gains were—to put it mildly—skewed. Total employment grew 183,000 in February according to the Household Survey, distributed as follows:




When you add these numbers up, you get a figure that differs from the total job growth. This is because Hispanics are counted twice, first as Hispanic, and then as whites, blacks, or Asians. We usually compare Hispanic to non-Hispanic job growth to avoid that double counting.

But with Hispanic employment up, and white employment down, one thing is certain: white non-Hispanics are losing ground. They are the only major racial group to experience job loss in February. Blacks and Asians (including the Hispanics among them) garnered virtually all the new jobs created last month.

Because so many Hispanics are immigrants and the children of immigrants, Hispanic employment is the best proxy we have for the impact of immigration on employment. The ratio of Hispanic to non-Hispanic employment growth is a strong indication of how foreign-born workers fare relative to native-born workers in a particular month.

Hispanics received only about 7 percent of the jobs created last month, considerably less than their 13.6 percent share of the labor force. This was a surprisingly strong showing given the fact that so many Hispanic occupations involve outdoor work. [See Looking (in vain) for "Jobs Americans Won't Do"] In January, which was abnormally warm, 94 percent of new jobs went to Hispanics.

Hispanic job growth is hardly a seasonal phenomenon, however. Since the start of the Bush Administration (January 2001) through February 2006:

  • Hispanic employment rose 3.2 million, or 20.1 percent


  • Non-Hispanic employment rose 2.2 million, or 1.8 percent

The American Worker Displacement Index (VDAWDI) measures the ratio of Hispanic to non-Hispanic job growth indexes since the start of the Bush Administration.

The graphic demonstrates the situation starkly. The black line is Hispanic job growth; pink is non-Hispanic; and yellow the ratio of Hispanic to non-Hispanic (VDAWDI.)

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

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