National Data | December Job Report: Goldilocks Smothered in Jalapeños: Hispanic Displacement Of U.S. Born Workers Accelerates
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Ethnic Hispanics—a reasonable proxy for immigrants—although only an eighth of the workforce, snagged almost half the jobs created last month. Since the start of the Bush Administration, Hispanics have taken 59% of all jobs created. VDAWDI (the American Worker Displacement Index—see below) has risen to a new record.

This is happening, of course, because Hispanic immigrants are cheaper than the native-born. In large part that is because they can avoid the annoying cost of income tax, social security and health insurance deductions.

Labor market growth fell short of expectations last month, producing 108,000 new jobs, according to the government's report on business payrolls. But the December disappointment was cushioned by a sharp upward revision to November's job growth, now put at 305,000—the most since April 2004. December unemployment fell to 4.9 percent.

Conventional view: the U.S. job market is neither hot enough to give the Fed an excuse for further rate hikes nor cold enough to raise the specter of recession. It's just right.

As usual, the devil is in the details—specifically the details found in the Household Survey (HS) of employment. This survey reported 168,000 new jobs created in December, with Hispanics receiving 75,000, or 45 percent, of them. Hispanics account for 13 percent of total U.S. employment.

In percentage terms, Hispanic employment rose by 0.39 percent in December—nearly five times the 0.08 percent growth of non-Hispanic employment.

The Hispanic unemployment rate declined to 6.0 percent from 6.1 percent the prior month. White unemployment rose to 4.3 percent from 4.2 percent in October.

HS's November numbers were also revised—and here's where it gets really ugly. Total employment fell by 14,000 positions in November, according to the HS, but the economic pain was entirely on the non-Hispanic side of the labor force, which lost 134,000 jobs. Hispanic employment rose by 120,000 in November.

To be sure, the HS is dismissed by MSM pundits as quirky and unreliable. Yet over the past year it tracked the more widely cited payroll survey reasonably well; in December both showed total job growth in the 100,000 to 200,000 range. Only the Household Survey presents job data by race and ethnicity.

Monthly changes in Hispanic and non-Hispanic job growth since the start of the Bush Administration, expressed as an index number, are tracked in the following graphic:

From January 2001 through December 2005 Hispanic employment rose by 2,948,000, or 18.3 percent, while non-Hispanic employment increased by 2,055,000, or 1.7 percent. The ratio of the growth rates, which we call VDAWDI (the American Worker Displacement Index) rose to a record 116.3 in December from 116.0 the prior month.

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

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