National Data | Immigrants Pull Further Ahead (Again) in August Job Report
September 07, 2005, 05:00 AM
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The August employment numbers, released last Friday, were collected before Hurricane Katrina wrought its havoc. Judging from the TV images the vast majority of the displaced storm victims are black, and relatively few are Hispanic. Katrina has compounded the damage done by previous waves of immigrants: Americans are being displaced in the workplace.

The August job numbers were disappointing enough.  Payroll employment rose by 169,000, well below the consensus, although good enough to push the unemployment rate down to 4.9 percent. But according to the household survey, 373,000 jobs were added—more than twice the payroll figure. As has been the case for most of the Bush II years, a disproportionate share of the new jobs went to Hispanics.

Although Hispanics account for 12.9 percent of the working-age population, they received 17 percent of jobs added in August—and an incredible 57 percent of jobs created since George Bush's Administration took office in January 2001.

Since Dubya's first inaugural, Hispanic employment has increased by 2.648 million, or 16.43 percent, while non-Hispanic employment rose 2.030 million, or 1.67 percent. Accordingly, the ratio of Hispanic to non-Hispanic employment indices, which we call the V.DARE Worker Displacement Index (VDAWDI), rose to a record 114.5 in August.

As I have explained before, the monthly employment surveys do not ask respondents their immigrant status. Hispanic employment is thus the best proxy we have of the month to month changes in the foreign-born workforce. But it is just a proxy.

Data specifically on foreign-born and U.S.-born workers are available from the Census Bureau. These numbers are published annually, and are not available on a monthly basis. Nevertheless, they provide a backup to the Hispanic employment figures which we use as a proxy for immigrant labor growth.

If anything, they show our Hispanic "proxy" understates the rate at which immigrants are displacing native workers. (Table 1.)

From 2001 to 2004, for example:

  • Foreign-born employment grew by 2.8 million, or 16.1 percent.

 

  • Hispanic employment grew by 1.7 million, or 10.7 percent.

So our measure of worker displacement—the VDAWDI index—would have been even larger had we used foreign-born workers instead of our proxy.

We are looking at a real phenomenon here. It's time the MSM took notice—to say nothing of our elected officials.

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