National Data: Immigrants Grab January Jobs At Double Americans’ Rate—New Illegals Surge Underway
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American businesses added 151,000 jobs in January, sharply slower than December’s rate of gain but good enough to push unemployment to its lowest rate in eight years (4.9%.) Wages rose a robust 0.5%. Many economists attributed this to a “tightening” labor market, but there were other factors, including minimum wage hikes that kicked in in many states on January 1st.

The U.S. economy just witnessed the two best years of job growth—2014 and 2015, in that order—since 1999. But something doesn’t feel right. Real economic growth has been limping along at a 2.1% rate since the Great Recession ended. The problem: worker productivity is down. New workers are simply not producing as much as the older ones.

Mainstream economists attribute the productivity malaise to the shift of jobs out of manufacturing and mining, where capital per worker is high, to retail, health care, and other service industries that are notoriously labor intensive. Missing from the discussion: human capital—the capital embodied in education, work ethic, verbal skills, etc. An economy increasingly addicted to relatively cheap immigrant labor cannot hope to maintain worker productivity at historic levels.

The “other” employment survey, of Households rather than Employers, reported a whopping 615,000 job gain in January. This follows an equally impressive 485,000 gain the prior month.

And the news that you can only rely on to report: January saw a return to the long-term trend of immigrants displacing Americans in the workforce:

In January:

  • Total employment rose 615,000 up by 0.41%
  • Native-born employment rose by 495,000, up by 0.40%
  • Foreign-born employment rose by 120,000 – up by 0.47%
Native-born American workers have lost ground to their foreign-born competitors throughout the Obama years. We highlight this trend in our New American Worker Displacement Index (NVDAWDI) graphic:

Native-born American employment growth is 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 to January 2016:

  • Foreign-born employment rose by 3.937 million, up 18.2%. The immigrant employment index rose from 100.0 to 118.2.
  • Native-born American employment rose by 4.386 million or by 3.6%. The native-born American employment index rose from 100.0 to 103.6
  • NVDAWDI (the ratio of immigrant to native-born employment growth indexes) rose from 100.0 to 114.0. (100 X (118.2/103.6))
Immigrant employment has risen 5.1-times faster than native-born employment (18.2% versus 3.6%) during the Obama years. In many unskilled occupations the job growth gap is far larger, owing to the disproportionate number of foreign-born workers in those fields.

The foreign-born share of total U.S. employment has risen relentlessly, albeit erratically, throughout the Obama years— see chart at top of column.

The foreign-born share of total employment rose ever so slightly in January, to 16.99% from 16.98% in December. In President Obama’s first full month in office (January 2009), 14.97% of all persons working in the U.S. were foreign-born.

In only 4 of the 85 months of Obama’s Presidency to date have immigrant workers accounted for a greater share of U.S. employment than they did last month.

January’s immigrant employment share was 2.02 percentage points above the level recorded at the start of Mr. Obama’s administration. With total employment now at 150 million, each percentage point translates to 1.5 million workers. This implies that Obama-era immigration may have pushed as many as 3.03 million (1.5 million times 2.02) native-born Americans onto the unemployment rolls.

A detailed snapshot of American worker displacement over the past year is seen in the “Employment Status of the civilian population by nativity” table published in the monthly BLS report:


Employment Status by Nativity, Jan. 2015-Jan. 2016
(numbers in 1000s; not seasonally adjusted)
  Jan-15 Jan-16 Change % Change
  Foreign born, 16 years and older
Civilian population 39,967 41,028 1,061 2.7%
Civilian labor force 26,073 26,681 608 2.3%
       Participation rate (%) 65.2% 65.0% -0.2% -0.3%
Employed 24,553 25,328 775 3.2%
Employment/population % 61.4% 61.7% 0.3% 0.5%
Unemployed 1,520 1,353 -167 -11.0%
Unemployment rate (%) 5.8% 5.1% -0.7% -12.1%
Not in labor force 13,894 14,347 453 3.3%
Native born, 16 years and older
Civilian population 209,756 211,369 1,613 0.8%
Civilian labor force 129,977 130,665 688 0.5%
       Participation rate (%) 62.0% 61.8% -0.2% -0.3%
Employed 121,999 123,710 1,711 1.4%
Employment/population % 58.2% 58.5% 0.3% 0.5%
Unemployed 7,978 6,956 -1,022 -12.8%
Unemployment rate (%) 6.1% 5.3% -0.8% -13.1%
Not in labor force 79,780 80,704 924 1.2%
Source: BLS, The Employment Situation - January 2016, Table A-7, February 5, 2016. PDF
From January 2015 to January 2016:
  • Foreign-born employment rose by 775,000 – a 3.2% advance - while native-born employment rose by 1,711,000 – up by 1.4%. Advantage immigrants
  • Labor-force participation (LFP) rates – a sign of worker confidence -fell for foreign-born workers and native-born alike; at 65.0%, however, the immigrant LFP is still well above that of natives, 61.8%. Advantage immigrants
  • Unemployment rates fell for both foreign-born and native-born; at 5.1%., the seasonally unadjusted unemployment rate for immigrants is 0.2 percentage point below the comparable rate for native-born. Advantage immigrants
And once again, the foreign-born population appears to growing faster than can be explained by legal immigration. The 12 month growth figure—1.1 million—is for immigrants of working age only. What about the population less than 16? What about the immigrants who die, or go home? If the net increase is 1.1 million, the gross increase—the number of new immigrants actually entering the country—must be significantly larger.

In other words, a new illegal alien surge is apparently underway. This week, Brandon Judd, president of the Border Patrol union, testified in Congress that the Obama Administration has recently ordered illegal aliens be released without orders to appear at any hearing at all. Judd commented: “We might as well abolish our immigration laws altogether.” [Immigration Agent: We're Told To Release Illegal Immigrants Or Be Fired, by Taylor Tyler,, February 6, 2016.]

Obama has only a few months left to finish Electing A New People.

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

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