National Data | Unemployment – Hispanic Immigrants Gain, American Workers Lose
October 10, 2003, 05:00 AM
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After 7 down months, employment finally went up in September. But the 57,000 job increase was not enough to reduce the unemployment rate. It held steady at 6.1%.

Why the disconnect? Needless to say, the Establishment media didn't mention immigration. But, as in reporting the poverty rate announcement a few days earlier, one Big Foot newspaper inadvertently stubbed its toe on the real story:

"But the increase in jobs was not large enough to match the growth in the population, and the percentage of adults with jobs fell to the lowest level in 10 years… Employment must grow by roughly 150,000 to 200,000 jobs each month to keep pace with the population." [VDARE.COM emphasis] [David Leonhardt, "Employment Rises for the First Time in Seven Months," New York Times, October 4, 2003.]

Is keeping pace with the population such a problem? Absolutely. The working-age population (16 years and older) expanded by 7.9 million between 2000 and 2002. Immigrants accounted for nearly half (48%) of that growth. The foreign-born working age population grew by 13.5% in this two-year period - about 6-times faster than the U.S.-born working-age population (2.3% growth).

There are no monthly figures on immigrant employment. But Hispanics are a good proxy. About 40% of Hispanics are immigrants. That contrasts with just 4% of non-Hispanic Whites and 6% of Blacks. In recent years nearly three-quarters of immigrant population growth was Hispanic.

Immigration has helped push the number of working-age Hispanics up by 3.0% in just the first three months of this year. By comparison, the number of working-age Whites increased by less than one-quarter the Hispanic growth rate (by 0.7%). Blacks increased by less than half the Hispanic rate (by 1.2%).

So how do these population growth factors play out in a generally bleak labor market?

The answer is stark: Hispanics are crowding out the traditional American racial groups. The number of employed Hispanics rose 293,000, or 1.7% in the first nine months of 2003 – their propensity to get work exceeded their rapid population growth. Black employment also rose, but not fast enough to absorb new Black entrants into the labor force. White employment actually fell.

As a result, between January and September 2003 (dates chosen to ensure consistent categories):

 

  • The Hispanic unemployment rate FELL by 0.3 percentage points, to 7.5%

 

  • The Black unemployment rate ROSE by 0.9 percentage points, to 11.2%

 

  • The White unemployment rate ROSE by 0.2 percentage points, to 5.3%

 

Overall the unemployment rate rose 0.4 % percentage points, from 5.7% to 6.1%, during that time.

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]

In effect, it appears that the government has decided to use immigration policy to attack American workers on behalf of employers. And in the process, of course, it is electing a new people.

Whatever the politics of this, the economic conclusion is inescapable: Hispanic immigrants are displacing low-skilled Blacks and Whites.

For a table of Employment Data by Race and Hispanic Origin, January-September 2003, click here. 

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