National Data | Immigrant Workers Had the Merriest Christmas
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Businesses added 167,000 non-agricultural jobs in December, the Labor Department reported this morning. Wall Street had been expecting 100,000.

Shucks. The unexpectedly bright Christmas gift reduces the prospects of an early interest rate cut, which the Street had also been expecting. Stocks dropped accordingly.

But we're lucky that financial types don't pay much attention to the "other" job report, based on a survey of households rather than businesses. The Household Survey was a blowout, registering a whopping 303,000 new jobs in December. That's nearly twice the job growth counted in the more widely cited business survey.

More important from our perspective is who is getting those new jobs: to a large extent, immigrants.

Here are month's gains by racial group:

  • Total: +303,000 (+0.21 percent)


  • Hispanic: +178,000 (+0.89 percent)


  • Non-Hispanic: +125,000 (+0.10 percent)

Six out of every 10 jobs created last month went to Hispanics—who account for 14 percent of the U.S. labor force.

Since about half of Hispanics are foreign-born, we use Hispanic employment as a proxy for immigrant employment. The government does not make immigrant data available in its monthly employment report, yet another example of its failure to keep tabs on our ongoing immigration disaster.

The national unemployment rate held steady at 4.5 percent in December. Hispanic unemployment dropped by 0.1 percentage point, to 4.9 percent. White unemployment rose by 0.1 percent, to 4.0 percent.

Last month's decline in Hispanic unemployment is especially noteworthy in that it coincided with a large increase in their labor force participation rates. In December 69.2 percent of adult Hispanics were in the labor force, up from 68.8 percent in November. White participation was 64.0 percent last month.

December marked the fifth month in a row in which Hispanic job growth exceeded that of non-Hispanics.

This, of course, is what we've come to expect during the Bush-II years. The trends in Hispanic, non-Hispanic, and in the ratio of Hispanic to Hispanic job growth since January 2001, are tracked in the following graphic:



Since January 2001 Hispanic employment has increased by 4,013,000—a gain of 24.9 percent—while 4,137,000 new jobs were filled by non-Hispanics—a gain of 3.4 percent. In other words, Hispanic grabbed almost half all the jobs created during Señor Bush's great job boom.

The ratio of Hispanic to non-Hispanic job growth indices, which we call VDAWDI (the American Worker Displacement Index), rose to a record 120.8 in December, up from 119.8 the prior month.

Annual data on actual immigrant job growth in 2006, as opposed to our Hispanic proxy, should be available in April. We will issue a report as soon as we have it.

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

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