National Data | More Jobs—But Only New Immigrant Groups Need Apply
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So you thought there was good news on the job front—finally? According to Friday's announcement, slightly more than 300,000 jobs were created in March. That's the biggest monthly rise in four years.

But look again: The job gains are stunningly skewed—toward Hispanics and Asians. And a significant number of them immigrants.

The March 2004 survey of U.S. households found:  [See Table 1.]


  • U.S. employment rose by 307,000, or by 0.2 percent.


  • Hispanic employment rose 364,000, or by 2.1 percent.


  • Asian employment rose 71,000, or by 1.2%.


  • Black employment rose 143,000, or 1.0 percent


  • White employment rose 87,000, or by 0.1 percent


The "Hispanic" category includes individuals of any race, so part of the job gains for each race is also included in the Hispanic category. This explains why Hispanic employment growth exceeds the national total at a time when all other races' employment rose too.

But the bottom line remains the same: Hispanics are displacing whites and blacks from the workplace.

Whites are doing worst, both proportionately and absolutely—astounding, considering they still make up the substantial majority of America's population.

Unfortunately, monthly Bureau of Labor Statistics figures do not break out immigrants separately.  But in fact the "Hispanic" and "Asian" categories are good proxies for immigration. Unpublished BLS data for 2002 show that immigrants account for 56% percent of the Hispanic workforce and a whopping 81 percent of the Asian workforce. For whites the foreign-born share is only 4 percent; for blacks, only 11 percent.  [See table 2]

So, while it's certainly Hispanics and to a lesser extent Asians who are getting the new jobs, it's also very probably immigrants.

Moreover, even native-born Hispanic and Asians are overwhelmingly the descendants of post-1970 immigrants. Prior to that, Hispanics and Asians were not a statistically significant component of the U.S. population. Essentially, these new ethnic groups are the creation of recent public policy: the 1965 Immigration Act, combined with the federal government's subsequent failure to prevent illegal immigration.  Now, these new groups are displacing older-stock Americans in the work place.

The obvious reason Hispanics crowd out the traditional American racial groups: they work for less. Recent research shows that occupations in which new Hispanic immigrants account for a quarter of the workforce pay as much as 11% less than those where there are no new Latino men. [Source: Eduardo Porter, "Hispanic Newcomers Damp Wages," Wall Street Journal, August 19, 2003]

I've written before about the mounting evidence that Hispanics are displacing other workers.  More recently, the Pew Hispanic Center confirmed my findings (although it is in favor of this displacement, of course).

The Pew study also provides confirmation that it's immigrant Hispanics, rather than native-born Hispanics, who are doing the displacing.

The study detailed the changing employment status of Hispanic workers by generation. During the course of 2003 first generation Hispanics—the foreign born—did much better than any of the U.S.-born generations. From the first to the fourth quarter of that year:


  • Employment of Hispanic immigrants rose 682,739, or by 6.9% percent


  • Employment of  second generation Hispanics – U.S. born with at least one foreign born parent – increased  by 66,474, or by 2.2% percent


  • Employment of third generation Hispanics – U.S.-born children of native born parents – fell by 100,770, or by -2.6% percent.


[Source: Pew Hispanic Center, "Latino Labor Report, 2003: Strong But Uneven Gains in Employment," February 2004. Table 5.

Even for native-born Hispanics, the job boom is a bust.

[Number fans click here for tables.]

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

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