National Data | Immigrant Workforce Falls For Third Straight Month! Is Trump’s “Invisible Wall” Working?
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Earlier: National Data | Americans Gain Jobs in October; Immigrants Leaving in Record Numbers! Is Trump Quietly (!) Doing Something Right (!!)?

Again, the big news in the November jobs data: The immigrant workforce population continues to fall. This is the third month in a row that has seen an absolute decline, after a protracted slowing in the immigrant workforce growth rate that can be traced back to early 2018. This current year-over-year decline actually exceeds that seen in the 2008 Great Recession. It now seems undeniable that something is going on. Fly in ointment: immigrant displacement of American workers has ticked up, although still well below peak levels.

November marks the third straight month of absolute decline, with the foreign-born working-age population (16 years+) dropping by 434,000, or 1.00%, from the same month last year. This is slightly less dramatic than September and October, which saw declines of 427,000 (0.99%), and 725,000 (1.68%), respectively.

The immigrant workforce population last shrank in early 2017, when the late lamented “Trump Effect” was literally scaring immigrants away. And in 2008-9, the outflux was driven by economic malaise. But now the economy is strong.

The incredible truth: Trump has apparently been able to reduce the inflow through administrative measures: his Muslim ban, (upheld by the Supreme Court) his revised public charge rules, even more thorough adjudication by USCIS. Note also that Trump has sharply reduced the “refugee” intake, from Obama’s peak of 85,000 to a proposed 18,000 for fiscal 2020.

A long, mournful summary of these administrative measures recently appeared in the Huffington PostTrump Got His Wall, After All (by Rachel Morris, November 24, 2019). Morris writes: ”Among immigration lawyers, the cumulative effect of these procedural changes is known as the invisible wall.” She says that like it’s a bad thing!

Meanwhile, the BLS reported a blowout 266,000 new payroll jobs were created in November—well past the Wall Street consensus (180,000) and more than twice October’s job hike (128,000.) Trump, quite understandably, seized upon this moment, tweeting “the economy stupid,” It’s the unofficial slogan of Bill Clinton’s 1992 presidential campaign.

However the Household Survey of Employment, on which our monthly displacement analysis rests, shows an anemic 83,000 job rise for November, with immigrants gaining, and native-born Americans losing:

In November 2019:

  • Immigrants gained 381,000 jobs, an increase of 1.4%.
  • Native-born Americans lost 298,000 jobs, a 0.23% decline.
  •’s immigrant employment index, set at 100.0 in January 2009, rose to 127.6 from 125.9 in October, a 1.4% gain.
  • The Native-born American employment index fell to 108.6 from 108.9 in October, 0.23% loss.
  • The New VDARE American Worker Displacement Index (NVDAWDI), our name for the ratio of immigrant to native-born employment growth indexes since Jan. 2009, rose to 117.5 from 115.6—a gain of 1.63%.

From’s immigration-focused viewpoint, one that is still almost unreflected in the MSM, this displacement number is a bit of a setback, especially after October’s heartening news. (October marked a return to the remarkable three-month stretch, May through July of this year, during which native-born Americans gained jobs while immigrants lost themnotable reversal of the long-run trend.)

Native-born American workers lost ground to their foreign-born competitors throughout the Obama years. This accelerated significantly in the months leading up to the 2016 election.

Overall, from January 2017 through November 2019, Trump has presided over a labor market in which immigrants gained 1.645 million jobs, a 6.3% increase, while native-born Americans gained 4.867 million, a rise of 3.9%. But in percentage terms, the immigrant/native-born gap in job creation under Trump — 2.4 percentage points in favor of immigrants—is comparatively low. As recently as April it was 7.1 percentage points, with immigrant employment rising 8.9% from the start of his administration, while native-born American employment gained 1.8%.

Nearly three-quarters through his first term President Trump has reduced the rate of American worker displacement, but not killed the decades-long trend. Our tag line, “As far as job growth is concerned, ‘America First’ has not translated into Americans First,” still holds.

Another way of looking at American worker displacement: The immigrant share of total U.S. employment. It rose in November.

Immigrants held 17.42% of jobs in November, up from 17.19% in October, albeit down from their 17.71% share in November 2018. These percentages are based on employment figures that are not seasonally adjusted, so the November-to-November decline over the past 12 months may be more representative of the long-term trend. The record immigrant job share (18.08%) was achieved in April 2018.

We are told incessantly there are simply not enough job seekers to fill unfilled job positions. But if that were the case, wages would rise enough to “clear the market,” bringing fresh workers into the labor force. It’s not happening. Wage growth edged up to a 3.1% year-over-year gain in November, still below the growth economists expect for an economy with such low unemployment. Wage growth remains comfortably within the Federal Reserve’s target range for 2% inflation, as charted by the Leftist Economic Policy Institute:

The message here: the Federal Reserve is unlikely to raise interest rates anytime soon. Trump’s Job Machine is probably good to go until the 2020 election.

More good news: data in the November report show that on three important metrics—working-age population, employment, and labor force participation rate—native-born American workers outpaced immigrants by a considerable multiple over the past 12 months:

Employment Status by Nativity, Nov. 2018-Nov. 2019

(numbers in 1000s; not seasonally adjusted)





% Change


Foreign born, 16 years and older

Civilian population





Civilian labor force





     Participation rate (%)










Employment/population (%)










Unemployment rate (%)





Not in labor force






Native born, 16 years and older

Civilian population





Civilian labor force





     Participation rate (%)










Employment/population (%)










Unemployment rate (%)





Not in labor force





Source: BLS, The Employment Situation November 2019, Table A-7, December 6, 2019.


Over the past 12 months (November 2018 through November 2019):

  • The native-born America working-age population grew by 1.746 million, a gain of 0.81%; the corresponding immigrant population fell by 434,000—a 1.0% loss. For the third consecutive month the number of working age immigrants declined, year-over-year. Is this a new (and improved) “Trump Effect”?
  • American employment rose a whopping 2.042 million, up 1.6%; Foreign-born employment fell 112,000, down by 0.4%. Another remarkable comeback month for native-born American workers, especially after a dismal June during which immigrants gained jobs nearly three times as fast, year-over-year.
  • The immigrant labor force (working or looking for work) fell by 249,000, a 0.9% decline; the native-born labor force roared ahead by 1.97 million, a 1.5% gain. Advantage native-born Americans.
  • The unemployment rate for immigrants fell to 2.7%, a decline of 15.6% from last October, while the native-born American unemployment rate fell to 3.4%, a decline of only 2.9%. Advantage immigrants —though this “positive” was made possible by a decline in the immigrant labor force. By contrast, the unemployment rate for native-born Americans fell despite a steady rise in the native-born labor force.
  • The labor-force participation rate for native-born Americans rose by 0.4 % points, versus a 0.1 % point rise for immigrants. Another month of increased confidence (vis a vis the same month last year) on the part of American workers now that Trump’s tariffs and crackdowns on unauthorized foreign workers may be increasing job opportunities.

The data also show that 4.7 million native-born Americans and 775,000 immigrants were unemployed in November, but over the last year the number of unemployed immigrants collapsed 15.0%, versus a modest 1.5% decline in idled native-born Americans. Two related factors may be at play here:

    1. unemployed immigrants are going home rather than face deportation, and
    2. U.S. companies are screening out illegals to avoid sanctions from an increasingly vigilant DHS.

Both welcome changes.

But still many employers, and their lobbyists, insist that immigrants are needed to fill the gap.

Bottom line: This is a formidably strong economy and it has been swamping the effects of immigration. The last few months have generally been good for native-born Americans.

But more than three years after Trump’s great victory, GOP Senators are still on the donor-driven immigration bandwagon. Continued immigration driven demographic drift will be suicidal for the GOP.

HuffPo’s Morris laments that

It’s easy enough to believe that because none of the Trump Administration’s reforms are entrenched in law, they can be overturned as quickly as they were introduced. And yet even though, in theory, the policy memos can all be withdrawn, the “sheer number of both significant and less significant changes is overwhelming,” said [Ur] Jaddou, the former USCIS chief counsel [under Obama]. “It will take an ambitious plan over a series of years to undo it all.”

A nice thought, but we don’t believe it. As GOP primary challenger Pete d’Abrosca recently told Fox’s Tucker Carlson, at this point the only real guarantee for American workers—and for the Historic American Nation—is an immigration moratorium.

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


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