National Data: November Jobs—Americans Lose Ground As Immigrant Job Displacement Ties Obama-Era Record
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Employers added another 211,000 jobs in November, while the pace of hiring in September and October was stronger than previously reported, according to Labor Department. The unemployment rate remained at 5.0%, as labor force growth kept pace with employment growth. This bullish report all but guarantees a December rate hike, as the Fed tries to cool things down.

Are you having fun yet? No, you say? Well, that’s not surprising. For native-born American workers, the disconnect between the MSM headlines and reality may never have been as profound as it is today.

Our reality, of course, is reported in the “Other” employment survey, of households rather than employers. The Household Survey found that 244,000 jobs were created last month—not all that different from the job gain number reported by the Employer Survey. But the Household Survey also gathers data on the nativity of workers, both legal and illegal. And the November results are shocking.

In November:

  • Total employment rose 244,000, up by 0.2%
  • Native-born American employment fell by 163,000, down by 0.1%
  • Immigrant employment rose by 407,000 – up by 1.6%
Thus Immigrant employment grew 16 times faster than native-born American employment in November.

If that 1.6% per month growth rate persists, foreign-born employment will double in 45 months. We do not expect that. In fact, it seems arithmetically impossible, given that immigrant employment is already well over half (63.2%) of foreign-born working age population—unless the insatiable demand for immigrant labor sucks more immigrants (legal and illegal) into this country.

A Marketwatch article by Caroline Baum entitled “Strong job growth is a really a sign of weakness” [December 4 2015] caught our eye. Ms. Baum notes that recent strong job growth seems completely out of sync with the anemic GDP growth.

More workers amidst lower growth can only mean that workers are less productive—a condition that Ms. Baum blames on a lack of capital investment on the part of U.S. businesses.

But companies are in business to make profits, not to increase the productivity of their workers. Why would any company purchase labor-saving equipment—the things that enable workers to produce more per hours—when a seemingly endless supply of low-wage workers, mainly foreign-born, is available? Wages will never rise unless workers become more productive, and workers will never become more productive so long as immigration continues to drive the labor supply.

Native-born American workers have lost ground to their foreign-born competitors throughout the Obama years. We highlight this trend in our New American Worker Displacement Index (NVDAWDI) graphic:

Native-born American employment growth is 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 to November 2015:

  • Foreign-born employment rose by 3.780 million, up 17.5%. The immigrant employment index rose from 100.0 to a record 117.5.
  • Native-born American employment rose by 3.363 million or by 2.8%. The native-born American employment index rose from 100.0 to 102.8.
  • NVDAWDI (the ratio of immigrant to native-born employment growth indexes) rose from 100.0 to 114.3 (100X(117.5/102.8)
Immigrant employment reached an all-time record high in November 2015, while the NVAWDI displacement index (the ratio of immigrant to native-born employment growth under Obama) tied the record set in September 2014.

The immigrant share of total U.S. employment has risen steadily, albeit erratically, throughout the Obama years. Last month saw a particularly dramatic increase:

In February 2009, President Obama’s first full month in office, 14.97% of all persons working in the U.S. were immigrants. In November 2015 the foreign-born share was 17.02%, up from 16.78% in October. November marked the fourth straight month in which the immigrant share of employment has risen.

In only one of the 83 months of Obama’s Presidency have immigrant workers accounted for a greater share of U.S. employment than they did last month. That record was set in September 2014, when 17.03% of U.S. employment was foreign-born.

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,

Nov. 2014-Nov. 2015

(numbers in 1000s; not seasonally adjusted)

  Nov-14 Nov-15 Change % Change
  Foreign born, 16 years and older
Civilian population 40,027 40,353 326 0.8%
Civilian labor force 26,536 26,665 129 0.5%
     Participation rate (%) 66.3% 66.1% -0.2% -0.3%
Employed 25,108 25,495 387 1.5%
Employment/population % 62.7% 63.2% 0.5% 0.8%
Unemployed 1,428 1,170 -258 -18.1%
Unemployment rate (%) 5.4% 4.4% -1.0% -18.5%
Not in labor force 13,491 13,688 197 1.5%
Native born, 16 years and older
Civilian population 208,817 211,394 2,577 1.2%
Civilian labor force 129,760 130,675 915 0.7%
     Participation rate (%) 62.1% 61.8% -0.3% -0.5%
Employed 122,658 124,271 1,613 1.3%
Employment/population % 58.7% 58.8% 0.1% 0.2%
Unemployed 7,202 6,403 -799 -11.1%
Unemployment rate (%) 5.6% 4.9% -0.7% -12.5%
Not in labor force 79,056 80,720 1,664 2.1%
Source: BLS, The Employment Situation November   2015, Table A-7, December 4, 2015. [PDF]

From November 2014 to November 2015:

  • Foreign-born employment rose 1.5%, while native-born employment grew by 1.3%. Advantage immigrants
  • Labor-force participation rates (LFPs), a sign of worker confidence, fell for both native-born American and foreign-born workers; at 66.1%, the immigrant LFP is still well above that of natives, 61.8%. Advantage immigrants.
  • Unemployment rates fell for both native-born American and immigrants. But Immigrants enjoyed steeper declines, and a significantly lower unemployment rate in November 2015 – 4.4% versus 4.9% for native-born Americans. Advantage immigrants
  • The number of foreign-born unemployed dropped by 18.5%; the number of native-born unemployed fell by 11.1%. Advantage immigrants
It is a rare 12 months when foreign-born population growth falls short of native-born population growth, but that’s what the BLS finds in this report. Such anomalies are not unusual. These figures are based on a fairly small survey of households - 60,000 out of more than 100 million.

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



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