National Data | March Jobs: Displacement Resumes—Americans Now Driven From Labor Force Completely
April 04, 2011, 05:00 AM
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According to the Payroll Survey, payrolls increased by 216,000 in March, exceeding the consensus forecast. At 8.8%, the unemployment rate is the lowest since March 2009 and a full percentage point below where it was last November. The parallel Household Survey, which has regularly been more optimistic, probably because it picks up illegal immigrant employment, showed as usual somewhat lower unemployment.

The Household Survey also contains ethnicity data. Hispanics are disproportionately foreign-born, so they are a convenient (if conservative) proxy  for immigrant displacement of American-born workers. Back in 2004, when we unveiled VDAWDI, data on foreign-born workers was only published annually.

Displacement been dramatic and it's continuing. Thus Hispanics garnered most of last month's Household Survey job growth. In March 2011:

  • Total employment: rose 291,000 (+0.21 percent)

  • Hispanic employment: rose 193,000 (0.97 percent)

  • Non-Hispanic employment: rose 98,000 (+0.08 percent)

Accordingly, VDARE.COM's American Worker Displacement Index (VDAWDI) spiked to 126.7 in March from the 125.6 reading reached in January.

Since the official end of the recession in June 2009 non-Hispanics have lost 670,000 jobs while Hispanics have gained 496,000 positions.

  • For every 1,000 Hispanics employed in June 2009 there were 1,025 employed in March 2011.

  • For every 1,000 non-Hispanics employed in June 2009 there were 994 employed in March 2011.

But there is a dark side to lower unemployment rates. While the unemployed share of U.S. labor force has declined, the labor force itself has also declined. It has shrunk steadily over the past few years, to a point where just 64.2% of adults are either in the work force or looking for a job. That is the lowest labor participation rate in a quarter-century. [Looking Ahead to the Jobs Report, By Michael Powell, New York Times, March 31, 2011]

Workers leave the labor force when they lose confidence in their ability to find gainful employment. They enter the labor force when job prospects appear to brighten.

Early in 2010, the Federal government mysteriously did begin publishing monthly foreign-born employment data—but not in a seasonally-adjusted format, making month to month comparisons difficult. But this new data does leave little doubt about what is happening to native-born and immigrant labor forces:

Employment Status by Nativity, March 2010-March 2011

(numbers in 1000s; not seasonally adjusted)

 

Mar-10

Mar-11

Change

% Change

 

Foreign born, 16 years and older

Civilian population

34,991

35,996

1,005

2.9%

Civilian labor force

23,855

24,034

179

0.8%

Employed

21,239

21,728

489

2.3%

 Employment/population ratio

60.7

60.4

-0.3

-0.5%

Unemployment rate (%)

11.0

9.6

-1.4

-12.7%

Not in labor force

11,136

11,961

825

7.4%

 

Native born, 16 years and older

Civilian population

202,168

203,004

836

0.4%

Civilian labor force

129,805

128,988

-817

-0.6%

Employed

116,743

117,234

491

0.4%

 Employment/population ratio

64.2

63.5

-0.7

-1.1%

Unemployment rate (%)

10.1

9.1

-1.0

-9.9%

Not in labor force

72,363

74,016

1,653

2.3%

Source: BLS, "The Employment Situation - March 2011", April 1, 2011. Table A-7.

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Over the past 12 months:

  • The foreign-born labor force (people working or looking for work in the U.S.) increased by 179,000 or 2.9%; the native-born labor force declined by 817,000 or 0.6%

  • Foreign-born employment rose by 489,000 or 2.3%; native-born employment rose by 491,000 or 0.4%

  • The share of foreign-born holding jobs fell 0.5%; the share of native-born with jobs fell by 1.1%

  • The foreign-born unemployment rate fell 1.7 points; native-born unemployment rate fell just 0.7%

Interestingly, while the immigrant labor force expanded smartly over the past 12 months, the number of immigrants not in the labor force rose by a still larger rate. Implication: the foreign-born working-age population is growing at a very robust clip indeed.

And the data confirm this. The foreign-born population of working age rose by slightly more than 1 million, or by 2.9% over the past year; the comparable figures for the native-born population are 836,000 and 0.4% respectively.

In the teeth of the worst unemployment for a generation, the immigrant tsunami—illegal and legal—continues.

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