National Data | October Jobs— Immigrant Working-Age Population Grows 9 Times Faster Than Native-Born, Blacks Hardest Hit (Seriously)
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Immigrant displacement of American workers close to a record high, black unemployment jumps and a new immigration surge is underway—right in time for the election.

The government, in its last pre-election snapshot of the economy, reported that employers added 161,000 workers in October. The official unemployment rate dropped to 4.9 percent, from 5 percent. And average hourly earnings rose 2.8 percent year over year, a level not reached since 2008.

The MSM saw as presaging a healthy outlook for the months ahead. “It was pretty positive across the board,” said David Berson, chief economist at Nationwide Insurance.[ Last Economic Snapshot Before The Election Shows Healthy Job Growth, By Patricia Cohen, NYT, November 4, 2016,

Apparently Mr. Berson does not scrutinize the part of Household Employment Survey where data are reported by race and nativity. There he would have seen that seasonally-adjusted unemployment among Black men 20 years and older rose in October (to 8.6% from 8.3% the prior month) while Hispanic men in that age bracket enjoyed a decline (to 5.0% from 5.4% in September). Seasonally adjusted unemployment among white men held steady at 4.1% in September and October.

howard-ea2cbb5e16946279b8a61b430e0e7f8da414ff28-s900-c85This pattern is consistent with the displacement of black workers by low wage, primarily Hispanic, immigrants.[After Immigration Raid, Locals Line Up For Jobs, NPR, August 28, 2008]

Even the macro picture of continued job growth is belied by the latest Household Survey results.

In October:

  • Total Household Survey employment fell by 43,000, down by 0.03%
  • Native-born American employment rose by 206,000 up by 0.16%
  • Foreign-born immigrant employment fell by 249,000, down by 0.96%
But October was unusual in that native-born American workers gained jobs and immigrants lost them. Overall, native-born American workers have lost ground to their foreign-born competitors throughout the Obama years and this trend has accelerated significantly in 2016. Last month was one of the occasional anomalies. This is brought out 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 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 October 2016:

  • Immigrant employment rose by 4.248 million, or by 19.6%. The immigrant employment index rose from 100.0 to 119.6.
  • Native-born American employment rose by 5.456 million, up by 4.6%. The native-born American employment index rose from 100.0 to 104.5.
  • NVDAWDI (the ratio of the immigrant to native-born employment growth indexes) rose from 100.0 to 114.4. (100X (119.6/104.5))
During the Obama years, immigrant employment has risen 4.3 times faster than native-born employment—19.6% versus 4.6%. In many unskilled occupations, the gap is larger, owing to a disproportionate share of foreign-born workers.

The foreign-born share of total U.S. employment has risen steadily, albeit erratically, during the Obama years:

In Barak Obama’s first full month in office (February 2009) 14.97% of all persons working in the U.S. were foreign-born. The foreign-born share in October was 17.05%, the fifth highest among the 94 months of Mr. Obama’s administration. The Obama era high, 17.216%, was set in September 2016.

Seven of the 10 worst months for native-born workers in the Obama years (measured by the share of jobs held by immigrants) have occurred in 2016.

The foreign-born share of total employment in September was 2.23 percentage points above the level recorded in February 2009. With total employment now at 152.0 million, this implies that Obama-era immigration may have pushed as many as 3.39 million native-born Americans onto the unemployment rolls since then.

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. [PDF]


Employment Status by Nativity, Oct. 2015-Oct. 2016
(numbers in 1000s; not seasonally adjusted)
  Oct-15 Oct-16 Change % Change
  Foreign born, 16 years and older
Civilian population 40,074 41,785 1,711 4.3%
Civilian labor force 26,267 27,060 793 3.0%
   Participation rate (%) 65.5 64.8 -0.7%pts. -1.1%
Employed 25,120 25,965 845 3.4%
Employment/population % 62.7 62.1 -0.6%pts. -1.0%
Unemployed 1,147 1,096 -51 -4.4%
Unemployment rate (%) 4.4 4.0 -.0.4%pts. -9.1%
Not in labor force 13,807 14,725 918 6.6%
Native born, 16 years and older
Civilian population 211,468 212,536 1,068 0.5%
Civilian labor force 131,047 132,722 1,675 1.3%
   Participation rate (%) 62.0 62.4 0.4%pts. 0.6%
Employed 124,597 126,370 1,773 1.4%
Employment/population % 58.9 59.5 0.6%pts. 1.0%
Unemployed 6,450 6,352 -98 -1.5%
Unemployment rate (%) 4.9 4.8 -0.1%pts. -2.0%
Not in labor force 80,421 79,814 -607 -0.8%
Data source: BLS, The Employment Situation – October 2016, Table A-7, November 4, 2016.

Over the last 12 months (October 2015 to October 2016):

  • Immigrant employment rose by 845,000, up 3.4%, while native-born American employment rose 1.773 million, up by 1.4%. Immigrant employment grew 2.4 times faster than native-born American employment.
  • The foreign-born labor force (immigrants working or looking for work) rose by 3.0%, while the comparable native-born labor force rose by 1.3%. Advantage Immigrants.
  • The number of unemployed immigrants fell by 4%, while the number of native-born American unemployed fell by only 1.5%. Advantage Immigrants.
  • Unemployment rates dropped for both immigrants and native-born, but the percentage decline for immigrants, 9.1%, was nearly 5-times the decline for native-born Americans, 2.0%.
Remember: this is only the tip of the immigration iceberg. The true measure of post-1965 immigration impact on the labor market would include their U.S.-born children. My estimate: factoring in U.S.-born children virtually doubles (+ 80%) immigration’s depression of American wages.

Once again the data seem to suggest an immigration surge is underway. BLS estimates that the foreign-born population of working age (16 years and over) grew by 4.3% over the past 12 months, or roughly 9 times the 0.5% growth of the comparable native-born American population.

In raw numbers, the foreign-born working age population reportedly rose by 1.711 million over the past 12 months – far larger than the 1 million that the Department of Homeland Security reports are granted Legal Permanent Resident status in a typical year.


Surge of migrants illegally crossing U.S.-Mexico border ahead of election, By Manuel Bojorquez CBS News, October 25, 2016

Are illegals filling the gap? I’ve been writing about this since last year. Now, finally, reports of a border surge have started to appear in the MSM—right in time for the election.

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

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