The U.S. economy continued to shed jobs at a horrendous pace in April, with payroll employment falling by 539,000 and the unemployment rate jumping to a 26-year high of 8.9%. The outcome was largely expected—it was actually a slight slowing in the pace of massive job destruction in the previous five months.
But the "other" employment survey, of households rather businesses, revealed a totally unexpected turn of events: Employment rose by 120,000 positions—the first increase in Household Survey jobs since April 2008, when 362,000 jobs were created.
Don't uncork the bubbly just yet. The civilian labor force grew by 683,000 positions in April as a flicker of optimism lured erstwhile discouraged ex-workers back into the hunt. The torrent of job seekers far exceeded the trickle of new jobs. As a result, April unemployment jumped to 8.9 percent – a 26-year high.
Hispanic employment grew by more than 1 percent in April, the largest monthly expansion since August 200 7. Not surprisingly, Hispanics were also the only group to enjoy a lower unemployment rate last month:
U.S. unemployment: 8.9 percent (+0.4 points from March)
White unemployment: 8.0 percent (+0.1 point)
Black unemployment: 15.0 percent (+1.7 points)
Hispanic unemployment: 11.3 percent (- 0.1 points)
More important from our perspective, April's Household Survey reveals a troubling return of American Worker Displacement. Rarely over the past eight years have Hispanic workers gained ground so decisively vis-a-vis their native-born (i.e., non-Hispanic) counterparts.
We use Hispanics, who are heavily immigrant, as a proxy for immigrants, since the federal government refuses to release monthly data on native born vs. immigrant employment. It does release annual data, however, and this has confirmed our approach.
Here are the details:
Total employment: +120,000 (+0.09 percent)
Non-Hispanic employment: -94,000 (-0.08 percent)
Hispanic employment: +214,000 (+1.09 percent)
The ratio of Hispanic to non-Hispanic job growth since the January 2001, expressed as an index that we call VDAWDI (the VDARE.COM American Worker Displacement Index), jumped a whopping 1.17 percent in April—its largest rise since May 2008, and the second consecutive monthly increase.
The return of American Worker Job Displacement is clearly evident in the graphic:
The blue line tracks Hispanic job growth; pink non-Hispanic job growth; and yellow the ratio of Hispanic to non-Hispanic job growth indices,—i.e., American Worker Displacement.
All lines start at 100.0 in January 2001.
The blue (Hispanic) line skyrocketed to a high of 128.0 in November 2007, stumbled at the start of the recession, but recovered sharply in March and April. In April the blue line was at 123.2—signaling a 23.2 percent rise in Hispanic employment since January 2001.
The pink (non-Hispanic) job line fell during the economic malaise of early George W. Bush years, recovered weakly to 103.6 in November 2007. Pushed down during the recession, it managed to stay above 100.0 until March of this year. In April this index sank to 99.58, signaling a 0.42 percent reduction in non-Hispanic employment since January 2001.
Only time will tell if the economy has truly "bottomed". But for American workers, the "bottom" is increasingly a theoretical issue. The practical reality is that Americans are being beaten out of jobs by immigrant competitors.
Edwin S. Rubenstein (email him) is President of ESR Research Economic Consultants in Indianapolis.