Further, most workers will need bigger wage and salary increases for some time to make up for lost ground after a long period of wage stagnation. Although wages have grown 2.5% over the past 12 months, at this stage in economic recoveries annual wage growth usually reaches 3% to 4%. Workers haven’t seen those kinds of pay hikes since the end of the Great Recession.
We have long attributed the pay stagnation to the displacement of native-born American workers by immigrants willing to work for less. The Household Employment Survey confirms that this insidious trend is still with us in October.
American workers have lost ground to their immigrant competitors throughout the Obama years. We highlight this trend in our New VDARE.com 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. (This isn’t because we don’t like President Obama—national-origin numbers weren’t available before that, so we used Hispanic employment as a proxy).
From January 2009 to October 2015:
The foreign-born share of total U.S. employment has risen steadily, albeit erratically, throughout the Obama years:
In February 2009, President Obama’s first full month in office, 14.97% of all persons working in the U.S. were foreign-born. In October 2015 the foreign-born share was 16.78%. That is up from 16.73% in September, 16.70% in August, and 16.50% in July.
In only 10 of the 82 months of Obama’s Presidency have immigrant workers grabbed a greater share of U.S. employment than they did last month.
Overall, October’s immigrant employment share was 1.81 percentage points above the level recorded at the start of Mr. Obama’s administration.
With October employment at 149.1 million, each one percentage point rise in the foreign-born share translates to as many as 1.491 million displaced native-born workers. This means that Obama-era immigration may have pushed as many as 2.70 million (1.81 times 1.491 million) native-born Americans onto the unemployment rolls.
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, Oct. 2014-Oct. 2015
(numbers in 1000s; not seasonally adjusted)
|Foreign born, 16 years and older|
|Civilian labor force||26,364||26,267||-97||-0.4%|
|Participation rate (%)||66.4%||65.5%||-0.9%||-1.4%|
|Unemployment rate (%)||5.2%||4.4%||-0.8%||-15.4%|
|Not in labor force||13,332||13,807||475||3.6%|
|Native born, 16 years and older|
|Civilian labor force||130,252||131,047||795||0.6%|
|Participation rate (%)||62.3%||62.0%||-0.3%||-0.5%|
|Unemployment rate (%)||5.6%||4.9%||-0.7%||-12.5%|
|Not in labor force||78,709||80,421||1,712||2.2%|
|Source: BLS, The Employment Situation - October 2015, Table A-7, November 6, 2015. [PDF]|
This may reflect the extraordinary growth reported in professional and business service employment – white collar positions requiring at least a BA and specialized skills. By comparison, factory jobs and other blue collar sectors, where immigrants are overrepresented, trod water over the past few months.
Footnote: at VDARE.com, we’ve been monitoring immigrant displacement of American workers since 2001. Every once in a while the issue surfaces briefly in the MSM, and last month we noted a couple of such signs. This month, Daniel Horowitz, who has been much praised at VDARE.com, picked up the issue: The Truth Behind the Numbers: Foreign-born Jobs Up, American-born Jobs Unchanged [Conservative Review, November 6, 2015). My comment on Horowitz’ method: he uses unemployment as a negative proxy for employment. Problem is, unemployment falls when people leave the labor force. So the fall in unemployment that he notes may not exactly reflect what he says it does.