National Data | August Jobs— Immigrant Population Falls for First Time Since Great Recession!
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In the months immediately after Donald Trump’s election, immigrant displacement of American workers and growth of the foreign-born workforce (including illegals) seemed to be reversing so consistently that we were surprised when April’s job data suddenly undid all the gains. We wondered if it was statistical noise or a seasonal artifact that would soon reverse. But July’s job report seemed finally to confirm that the Trump Effect is real. And the August jobs report, released before the Labor Day weekend on Friday, September 1, offers the most dramatic evidence yet.

There were 138,000 fewer working-age immigrants in the country in August 2017 than in August 2016, according to the Labor Department—a decline of 0.33%. Year-over-year declines of this magnitude last occurred in 2009, the nadir of the Great Recession. And even in that dreadful year, the August reading showed an increase in foreign-born population from the same month of the prior year.

Any decline in the foreign-born working age population during a period of fairly robust employment growth is an extraordinary development. Job growth has always attracted illegal border crossers—at least, before Trump.

Seasonal factors are always at work, so it is particularly heartening to juxtapose August 2017’s year-over-year decline in foreign-born population to the massive 1.478 million year-over-year increase in August 2016, when an unreported (by the Main Stream Media) late Obama Era illegal alien surge was clearly underway.

Change in Foreign-born population from same month prior

(age 16+; in 1,000s; BLS data)

July 2016 1,176
Aug. 2016 1,478
Sept. 2016 1,471
Oct. 2016 1,711
Nov. 2016 1,545
Dec. 2016 886
Jan. 2017 351
Feb. 2017 177
Mar. 2017 56
Apr. 2017 770
May 2017 697
June 2017 497
July 2017 141
Aug. 2017 -138

The bad news: the two employment surveys reached very different conclusions. The widely cited Payroll Survey figure reported that 156,000 jobs were created in the month of August, while the Household Survey, which alone disaggregates total employment into immigrant and native-born components, found a 74,000 job loss. This meant that in August:

  • Total employment fell 74,000, down by 0.05%
  • Native-born American employment fell 296,000, down by 0.23%
  • Foreign-born immigrant employment rose 222,000, up 0.85%
Our August takeaway: Year-over-year population data indicate that immigrants are now leaving the country. But, paradoxically, the monthly employment data for August imply that a strong economy is luring immigrants already here into the labor force—probably because of their superior mobility and willingness to accept lower wages—and, as a result, native-born Americans are still being displaced.

During the 96 months of Barack Obama’s tenure, immigrant employment rose 4.2 times faster than native-born American employment—19.8% versus 4.7%.

During Trump’s first seven months immigrant employment rose by 510,000, an 1.11% increase, while native-born Americans gained 1,145,000 jobs, a 1.96% increase.

So while we have not yet decisively reversed the long-term Obama-Era trend, the first seven months of Trump has moved us much closer to that goal.

Native-born American workers lost ground to their foreign-born competitors throughout the Obama years, and this trend accelerated significantly in the months leading up to the election. This is brought out in our New American Worker Displacement Index (NVDAWDI) graphic:

Native-born American employment growth is represented by the black line, immigrant employment growth is in pink, and NVAWDI—the ratio of immigrant to native-born American job growth—is in yellow. The index starts at 100.0 in January 2009 for both immigrants and native-born Americans, and tracks their employment growth since then.

From January 2009 through August 2017:

  • Immigrant employment rose by 4.850 million, or by 22.4%. The immigrant employment index rose from 100.0 to 122.4.
  • Native-born American employment rose by 6.368 million, up by 5.3%. The native-Born American employment index rose from 100.0 to 105.3.
  • NVDAWDI (the ratio of immigrant to native-born employment growth indexes) rose from 100.0 to 116.3. (100X (122.4/105.3))
The foreign-born immigrant share of total U.S. employment rose steadily, albeit erratically, throughout the Obama years. It fell sharply in the months after the 2016 election, but roared back to Obama-era levels in the spring. In August, the immigrant share of total employment was at a record high 17.27%:

In February 2009, Barack Obama’s first full month in office, 14.97% of all persons working in the U.S. were foreign-born. In his last full month, December 2016, 17.05% of workers were foreign-born. This implies that Obama-era immigration pushed as many as 3.16 million native-born Americans onto the unemployment rolls.

The immigrant share of employment in August (17.27%) was 0.22 percentage points above the share in December. This implies that resistance to Trump’s immigration agenda may have put some 33,760 native-born Americans out of work.

In contrast, at its peak in April 2017 the mere threat of a Trump immigration crackdown appeared, by our estimates, to have put 168,000 native-born American workers back to work. This was actually quite plausible, given the early hysteria about Trump in the MSM. Some immigrants, legal and illegal, may have decided to leave. Others, above all illegals, may have decided not to come after all.

A detailed snapshot of American worker displacement over the past year is available in the Employment Status of the Civilian Population by Nativity table published in the monthly BLS Report. [PDF]

Over the last 12 months (August 2016 to August 2017):

  • The foreign-born labor force grew 2.2-times faster than the native-born labor force: 1.68% versus 0.55%. ADVANTAGE IMMIGRANTS
  • Immigrant employment rose 1.3-times faster than native-born employment: 1.48% versus 1.10%. ADVANTAGE IMMIGRANTS
  • The labor-force participation rate (LPR), a sign of worker confidence, rose by 1.1 points for immigrants and fell by 0.2 for native-born Americans. At 66.5%, the immigrant LPR in June was considerably above the native-born rate (62.3%.) ADVANTAGE IMMIGRANTS
  • The number of unemployed native-born Americans fell by 659,000 – down 9.7%; the number of unemployed immigrants fell 50,000 – down 4.2%. ADVANTAGE AMERICANS, although much of this “advantage” may be due to older Americans retiring, or younger, discouraged, natives leaving the labor force from lack of suitable job opportunities.
August’s results indicate the Trump effect is real: the immigrant population is finally falling.

But without interior enforcement, and above all a reduction in legal immigration, it will take time to benefit American workers.


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