National Data: June Jobs—The “Obama Effect,” Immigrant Displacement Of American Workers, Resumes
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The MSM consensus on the June jobs data: this should quash worries about flagging job growth, weaken Donald Trump’s anti-trade argument, and—if it continues—put Hillary in a good position come November. Employers increase payrolls by 287,000, a dramatic rebound from a dismal May when a paltry 13,000 positions were added according to revised figures released Friday. Our position (not for the first time):  bunk. Unreported by the MSM (also not for the first time): immigrant displacement of American workers has resumed.

This news was in the “other” employment survey, of households rather than businesses.  It marked the end of what we had speculated was a “Trump effect”—a two-month stretch during which native-born Americans gained jobs while immigrants lost them. Instead, the month of June saw a reversion to the old “Obama effect”—devastating jobs losses for native-born Americans amidst big gains for immigrant workers.

In June 2016:

  • Total Household Survey employment rose by 67,000, up by 0.04%
  • Native-born American employment fell by 452,000, down by 0.36%
  • Immigrant employment rose by 519,000, up by 2.06%
In only one of the 90 months of Obama’s tenure (August 2014) did immigrants (the Household Survey does not distinguish between legal and illegal) gain more jobs than in June. In only five of those 90 months did native-born American workers lose more jobs.

By contrast, in April and May of this year immigrants lost a combined total of 660,000 positions, while native-born Americans gained 370,000—the largest rollback in American worker displacement during the Obama years.

Needless to say, the June data show that the major Obama Era trend, of Native-born American workers losing ground to their immigrant competitors, is still intact. We highlight this in our New American Worker Displacement Index (NVDAWDI) graphic:

Native-born American employment growth is represented by 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 through June 2016:

  • Immigrant employment rose by 4.052 million, or by 18.7%. The immigrant employment index rose from 100.0 to 118.7.
  • Native-born American employment rose by 4.824 million or by 4.0%. The native-born American employment index rose from 100.0 to 104.0
NVDAWDI (the ratio of immigrant to native-born employment growth indexes) rose from 100.0 to 114.1 (100X (118.7/104.0))

During the Obama years, immigrant employment has risen 4.7 times faster than American employment—18.7% versus 4.0%. In many unskilled occupations, the job growth gap is far larger, owing to the disproportionate number of foreign-born workers in those sectors.

The key American Worker Displacement metric—the foreign-born share of total employment—has risen steadily, albeit erratically, throughout the Obama years:

In February 2009, President Obama’s first full month in office, 14.972% of all persons working in the U.S. were foreign-born. In June 2016 the foreign-born share was 17.008%. While that is down from the Obama-era record (17.077%, reached in March of this year) it is 3rd highest of the 90 months of Mr. Obama’s Administration.

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, June 2015-June 2016
(numbers in 1000s; not seasonally adjusted)
  Jun-15 Jun-16 Change % Change
  Foreign born, 16 years and older
Civilian population 40,342 41,055 713 1.8%
Civilian labor force 26,100 26,936 836 3.2%
  Participation rate (%) 64.7 65.6 0.9 % pts. 1.4%
Employed 24,816 25,851 1,035 4.2%
Employment/population % 61.5 63 150.0% 2.4%
Unemployed 1,285 1,086 -199 -15.5%
Unemployment rate (%) 4.9 4.0 -0.9 %pts. -18.4%
Not in labor force 14,241 14,119 -122 -0.9%
Native born, 16 years and older
Civilian population 210,321 212,342 2,021 1.0%
Civilian labor force 132,183 133,198 1,015 0.8%
  Participation rate (%) 62.8 62.7 -0.1 %pts. -0.2%
Employed 124,830 126,140 1,310 1.0%
Employment/population % 59.4 59.4 0.0 %pts. 0.0%
Unemployed 7,353 7,058 -295 -4.0%
Unemployment rate (%) 5.6 5.3 -0.3 %pts. -5.4%
Not in labor force 78,139 79,144 1,005 1.3%
Source: BLS, The Employment Situation - June 2016, Table A-7, July 8, 2016.
From June 2015 to June 2016:
  • Foreign-born employment rose by 1.035 million, up by 4.2%, while native-born American employment rose by 1.310—up by 1.0%. Immigrant employment grew more than four-times faster than American employment—a reversion to a long-term trend.
  • The number of unemployed immigrants fell by 21.4%, while the number of native-born unemployed fell by 12.6%. Advantage immigrants
  • Unemployment rates dropped 18.4% for immigrants and 5.4% for native-born. At 4.0%, the immigrant unemployment rate in June was 24.5% below the rate for native-born (5.3 %.). Advantage immigrants
  • Labor-force participation (LFP) rates, a sign of worker confidence, rose by 1.1% for immigrants and by fell by 0.2% for native-born Americans. At 65.6%, immigrant LFP in June was well above the 62.7% rate for native-born. Advantage immigrants
(Of course, this does not take into account the now-significant labor market impact of post-1965 immigrants’ American-born children—who with their parents are known to demographers as the “foreign stock.”)

A month ago we reported on two “mega changes” which, we hoped, could portend the turning of the immigrant tide: a diminution in the foreign-born population growth rate; and an actual decline in the foreign-born labor force.

June brought us back to reality: the foreign-born immigrant working-age population, which had grown at a slower rate than the comparable native-born population over the 12 months May 2015 to May 2016, outpaced the native-born by 80% in the June 2015 to June 2016 period. Similarly, the immigrant labor force grew 4 times faster than the native-born American labor force in the 12 months ending June 2016, after growing 27% less in the prior 12-month period.

Random noise bedevils all economic data, especially month-to-month readings. But our graphics, which now extend back 90 months show clearly that the long-term displacement trend is still intact.

American worker displacement is unlikely to end until a Trump-style immigration policy begins.

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

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