National Data | May Jobs: Hispanics Gain—Whites Lose
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While headlines focused on a surprisingly weak May jobs figure, the "other" employment survey—based on households rather than businesses—recorded a whopping 288,000 gain in total employment. Ethnic Hispanics received nearly one-quarter of the total, or nearly twice their labor force share.

Because so many Hispanics are immigrants or children of immigrants, Hispanic employment is the best proxy we have for the impact of immigration on employment.

Here are the May employment gains by racial group:

  • Total: +288,000 (+0.20%)
  • Hispanic: +65,000 (+0.33%)
  • White: +103,000 (+0.05%)
  • Black: +35,000 (+0.14%)

In percentage terms, Hispanic job growth was more than six-times that of whites and twice that of Blacks.

This is happening, or course, because Hispanic immigrants are cheaper than U.S.-born workers. Many are paid "off the books"—freeing their employers of the onerous burden of payroll taxes and unemployment compensation.

At least part of May's increase may be attributable to the heightened prospect of amnesty, now that the Senate bill has passed.

Unemployment data show white workers losing ground to both Hispanics and Blacks. In May the number of unemployed Hispanics fell by 74,000, or 6.7 percent; unemployed Blacks fell by 83,000, or by 5.1 percent. But the white unemployment count rose by 19,000 persons—or by 0.4 percent.

Although the White unemployment rate in May (4.1 percent) was below that of Hispanics (5.0 percent) and Blacks (8.9 percent), the gap is obviously narrowing.

Monthly changes in Hispanic and non-Hispanic employment since the start of the Bush Administration , expressed as an index number, are tracked in the following graphic:

From January 2001 to May 2006 Hispanic employment rose by 3,423,000, or 21.5 percent, while non-Hispanic employment increased by 2,777,000, or 2.3 percent. The ratio of the growth rates, which we call VDAWDI (the American Worker Displacement Index) rose to a record 118.5 in May from 118.3 the prior month.

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

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