NATIONAL DATA: Immigrant Workforce Population Falls For ELEVENTH STRAIGHT MONTH. But Displacement Rises—Immigration Moratorium Must Be Made Permanent
08/09/2020
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July’s job data showed the U.S. economy continuing to recover, albeit more slowly than in June. Key news for immigration patriots: For the eleventh straight month, the Immigrant Workforce Population has declined. But immigrant displacement of American workers has ticked up after a 6-month plunge, although still far below the peak reached in April 2018. By further flushing out immigrants, COVID-19 seems to have accentuated an America-First trend already underway for some time—but it’s possible that immigrants may be about to return. Unemployed Americans need protecting by the institutionalization of President Trump’s administrative immigration moratorium.

The economy added 1.8 million new jobs in July, a slowdown in hiring after a resurgence in coronavirus cases halted the return of many workers to their jobs, but the third straight month of job gains following a loss of 20 million in April. The unemployment rate fell to 10.2% from 11.1% in June, well below the peak of 14.7% in April. But there are still about 15 million fewer jobs in July than in February, before the pandemic forced businesses to close.

Our analysis of the “other” employment survey, of Households rather than businesses, found a slightly less robust picture: Total employment jumped by 1.4 million. More ominously, unlike other months in the pandemic, immigrants gained more jobs than native-born Americans.

In July:

  • Immigrants (legal and illegal, government data does not distinguish) gained 700,000 jobs, a 3.0% increase from June
  • Native-born Americans gained 650,000 jobs, a 0.6% rise from June.
  • VDARE.com’s immigrant employment index, set at 100.0 in January 2009, rose to 109.9 from June’s 106.7, a 3.0% gain.
  • The native-born American employment index rose to 99.3 from 98.8 in June, a gain of 0.5%. At 99.3, the July index indicates that 0.7% fewer native-born American workers held jobs last month than at the same point in 2016, Obama’s last year in office.

Accordingly, the New VDARE American Worker Displacement Index (NVDAWDI), our name for the ratio of immigrant to native-born American employment growth indexes since Jan. 2009, rose—to 110.6 in July from 108.0 in June.

This displacement level is still quite low by historical standards. Not since July 2014 has VDARE.com’s Displacement Index been this low in normal—i.e., non-pandemic—times.

Until now displacement declined in the pandemic because the immigrant working age population was falling, and those that remained were losing jobs even faster than native-born workers. The first part of that equation is still intact. The second part is not, at least not in July.

Indeed, July might be the canary in the coal mine—a sign that the fragile recovery is benefiting sectors like hotels and construction where immigrants hold a disproportionate number of jobs.

July notwithstanding, in percentage terms  job losses suffered by native-born American workers during Trump’s tenure are significantly less than those endured by immigrants. From January 2017 through July 2020 native-born Americans lost 6.3 million jobs, a 5.0% decline, while immigrants lost 2.2 million, an 8.5% reduction.

Thanks, in part, to Trump’s (relatively) hard line on immigration, expressed basically via administrative measures, the Trump years saw a labor market where native-born Americans lost relatively fewer jobs than immigrants.

This is not quite what Trump supporters had in mind in November 2016. But it’s something.

When July’s 1.4 million new jobs are added to June’s 4.9 million and May’s 3.8 million, about 10 million jobs lost during the pandemic have already been restored. If monthly job gains continue at this rate, we still will recover all the pandemic-related job losses within 6 months.

Admittedly, this outcome depends on some very big “ifs”: for example, renewed business closings because of a real or perceived renewed Coronavirus threat; delayed school openings, making it hard for parents to juggle work and child care responsibilities.

Another way of measuring displacement: the immigrant share of total employment.

Our analysis of the July report shows the immigrant share rose to 16.57%, up slightly from 16.24% in June. As discussed above, it had been falling steadily before the pandemic started. In February 2020 immigrants held 17.53% of all jobs.

Each 1% decline in immigrant employment share represents a transfer of about 1.4 million jobs from immigrants to native-born workers.

July also saw another decline in the foreign-born working-age population (16 years+). It fell by 636,000 from July 2019—the eleventh straight month of year-over-year decline. This contraction follows a protracted slowing of immigrant workforce growth that can be traced back to early 2018.

This current immigrant workforce decline is more than double that seen in the 2008 Great Recession. Back then immigrants were leaving at the rate of 300,000 to 400,000 a month, year-over-year. And it exceeds the “Trump Effect” seen in the early months of the administration, when illegals apparently self-deported out of fear.

This process was underway well before the pandemic hit. It has to be counted as a significant Trump achievement—a “Trump Triumph,” as we label it on our featured chart.

But the decline may be slowing—in July it was about one-third below June’s reduction, and about half the March loss, when the immigrant working age population fell 1.24 million, Y-O-Y.

How have American workers fared vis-à-vis immigrants year-over-year? A detailed picture is published in Table A-7 of the monthly BLS Report:

   

 

Employment Status by Nativity, July 2019-July 2020

(numbers in 1000s; not seasonally adjusted)

 

Jul-19

Jul-20

Change

% Change

 

Foreign born, 16 years and older

Civilian population

42,715

42,079

-636

-1.49%

Civilian labor force

27,982

27,349

-633

-2.26%

 Participation rate (%)

65.5

65.0

-0.5pts.

-0.76%

Employed

27,140

23,946

-3,194

-11.77%

Employment/population (%)

63.5

56.9

-6.6pts.

-10.39%

Unemployed

842

3,404

2,562

304.28%

Unemployment rate (%)

3.0

12.4

9.4pts.

313.33%

Not in labor force

14,733

14,730

-3

-0.02%

 

Native born, 16 years and older

Civilian population

216,509

218,294

1,785

0.82%

Civilian labor force

136,959

134,025

-2,934

-2.14%

 Participation rate (%)

63.3

61.4

-1.9pts.

-3.00%

Employed

131,245

120,546

-10,699

-8.15%

Employment/population (%)

60.6

55.2

-5.4pts.

-8.91%

Unemployed

5,714

13,479

7,765

135.89%

Unemployment rate (%)

4.2

10.1

5.9pts.

140.48%

Not in labor force

79,550

84,269

4,719

5.93%

Source: BLS, The Employment Situation, July 2020. Table A-7, August 7, 2020.

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 From July 2019 to July 2020:

  • The native-born American working-age population grew by 1.785 million, a gain of 0.82%; the corresponding immigrant population fell by 636,000—a 1.5% decline. The 11th consecutive month in which the working age immigrant population declined, year-over-year. But the decline may be slowing.
  • Both native-born Americans and immigrants suffered large job losses; native-born lost 10.7 million positions, an 8.2% reduction; foreign-born workers were hit harder, losing 3.2 million jobs, a 11.8% loss. On a year-over-year basis, both groups did better in July 2020 than in June, i.e., their percentage job losses were significantly lower. While some may see this as “good news,” it is also evidence that an IMMIGRATION MORATORIUM is needed to preserve job gains for native-born workers.
  • The immigrant labor force (working or looking for work) fell by 633,000, a 2.3% decline; the native-born labor force fell by 2.9 million, a 2.1% drop. Advantage native-born Americans.
  • Unemployment rates skyrocketed for both immigrants and native-born. But the native-born rate rose 140.5% (from 4.2% last July to 10.1% in July 2020) while the immigrant unemployment rate rose 313% (from 3.0% to 12.4%). Advantage native-born Americans.
  • The data also show that 13.5 million native-born and 3.4 million immigrants were unemployed in July, but since last July the number of unemployed immigrants rose by 304%, while the number of native-born jobless rose by “only” 136%. Advantage native-born Americans.
  • Labor force Participation Rates declined for both immigrants and native-born Americans, with the native-born LPR falling significantly more: down 1.9 points, or 3.0%, versus a 0.5 point, or 0.8%, decline for immigrants. The strong rebound in hotel, health care, and construction jobs—sectors that employ above-average numbers of foreign-born—undoubtedly softened the Y-O-Y decline in immigrant LPRs. Advantage immigrants.

The fall in the unemployment rate by nearly a full percentage point in July to 10.2% percent might seem to be unalloyed good news, a sign that job-seekers may soon be able to find a position.

But even as employers added 1.8 million jobs last month, the Labor Department reported Thursday that nearly 1.2 million workers filed initial claims for state unemployment benefits. It was the 20th week in a row that the figure topped one million.

“The rate of churn in the labor market remains incredibly high,” concluded Morgan Stanley’s economics team [U.S. Added 1.8 Million Jobs in July, NYT, August 7, 2020]. In plain English, this means millions of workers are finding jobs only to be fired soon afterward, or being let go permanently after assuming a layoff was temporary.

This uncertainty is why an anti-unemployment immigration moratorium must be permanently enacted.

In normal times about 300,000 working-age immigrants leave the country voluntarily. With immigrant job loses high in the pandemic, this number is undoubtedly larger today—but as economic recovery takes hold, they will try to return. This presents Donald Trump with a great opportunity: He can lock in the recovery’s benefits for the American worker—and stem recent immigration’s damage to the GOP—if he acts on his instincts and imposes an immigration moratorium.

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

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