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VDAWDI Vindicated—Immigration Hitting American Workers Hard
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April 23, 2009, 05:00 AM
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So gargantuan is America`s post-1965 immigration disaster that there is now an immigration dimension to every public issue.  Nowhere is this more so than in employment—and nowhere is the phenomenon more pressing, given that unemployment has now reached a level (8.5 percent) not seen since 1983—and is projected to reach double digits by year end.

 

As usual, the federal government`s statistics on immigration`s impact of on employment are so fragmentary that it almost appears someone doesn`t want to know. Specifically, it does not release monthly data on immigrant vs. native-born American employment.

 

Because of this malfeasance, in 2004 we unveiled our proprietary effort to track American worker displacement: the VDARE.com American Worker Displacement Index (VDAWDI). We tracked monthly growth of Hispanic versus non-Hispanic employment, expressing both as an index number of 100 as of the start of the Bush Administration in January 2001. We used Hispanics as a proxy for immigrant employment because such a high fraction of working age Hispancs (54 percent) a are immigrants.

 

VDAWDI rose dramatically from January 2001 to late 2007, when it reached 124.1.. Then it stalled and finally declined when employment collapsed in late 2008.

 

But despite the recent decline, Hispanic (= immigrant) employment is still (as of March 2009) up a whopping 22 percent. In contrast, non-Hispanic (= American) employment was actually lower than it was at the start of the Bush administration.

 

Once a year, the Bureau of Labor Statistics does release data on immigrant employment. It did so on March 26th of this year.

In general, this foreign-born employment data confirm our long-standing estimates of American Worker Displacement. If anything, we were too conservative. Specifically, in 2008, immigrant employment was, on average, 33.7% higher than in 2000, whereas native-born employment was only 3.8% higher. This compares to VDAWDI`s figures: a 22 percent gain for immigrants versus a slight decline for natives from January 2001 to March 2009.

 

Table 1  Native- v. Foreign-born Employment, 2000-2008

 

Total (1,000s)

Change from

prior year

% change from

prior year

Year

US-born

Foreign-born

US-born

Foreign-born

US-born

Foreign-born

2000

  118,254

  16,954

  492

  1,228

0.4%

7.8%

2001

  117,627

  17,445

  (627)

  491

-0.5%

2.9%

2002

  117,546

  18,991

  (81)

  1,546

-0.1%

8.9%

2003

  118,005

  19,731

  459

  740

0.4%

3.9%

2004

  118,997

  20,256

  992

  525

0.8%

2.7%

2005

  120,708

  21,022

  1,711

  766

1.4%

3.8%

2006

  122,202

  22,225

  1,494

  1,203

1.2%

5.7%

2007

  123,079

  22,967

  877

  742

0.7%

3.3%

2008

  122,703

  22,660

  (376)

  (307)

-0.3%

-1.3%

Change,

2000-2008

4,449

5,706

 

 

 

 

% change,

2000-2008

3.8%

33.7%

 

 

 

 

Source: BLS, "Foreign-born Workers: Labor Force Characteristics in 2008," News Release, March 26, 2009. (2007, 2008) PDF

Unpublished BLS data. (2000-2006)

 

(Foreign-born workers include legal immigrants, illegal aliens, refugees, and workers here on temporary work visas. These are annual averages, and only partially reflect the economic meltdown that started in late 2008.)

 

The unemployment rate for immigrants had been below that of natives since 2005. But it reached parity in 2008, when 5.8 percent of both groups were unemployed. Interestingly, for Hispanic immigrants unemployment was 6.9 percent in 2008, up from 4.9 percent the prior year.

 

In 2008, the number of foreign-born persons employed in the U.S. fell by 307,000, or by 1.3 percent. This was the first such decline since BLS employment surveys started collecting information on nativity in 1996.

 

In 2008, native-born employment fell by 0.3 percent in 2008, or less than one-quarter the decline in immigrant employment. This is a sharp break from the recent past, when the growth rate of jobs held by immigrants was many times greater than growth in jobs held by native-born workers. (Table 2.)

 

Equally remarkable is the fact that Hispanic immigrants accounted for all of last year`s decline: their employment fell by 338,000, or 3.0 percent. In contrast, employment of non-Hispanic immigrants rose by 31,000, or 0.3 percent. Perhaps this is because Hispanics are disproportionately lower skilled, and more vulnerable.

Immigrants accounted for 15.6 percent of total employment in 2008, down slightly from 15.7 percent in 2007. Lest we forget: as recently as 2000 only 12.5 percent of U.S. workers were foreign born.

But incredibly, despite hard economic times in the U.S., the just-released Bureau of Labor Statistics data show that the influx of job seekers from abroad continues.

 

The foreign-born population of working age (16-years and older) grew by 300,000 in 2008, to a record 35.3 million. That`s below the million-plus inflows recorded in the previous two years. But still, in percentage terms the immigrant population of working age grew slightly faster than its U.S.-born counterpart—0.9 percent versus 0.8 percent, respectively, in 2008. [See Table 2.]

 

 

Table 2 US-born v. Foreign-born Working  Age Population, 2000-2008

 

Total (1,000s)

Change from

prior year

% change from

prior year

Year

US-born

Foreign-born

US-born

Foreign-born

US-born

Foreign-born

2000

183,173

26,527

524

1,423

0.3%

5.7%

2001

184,410

27,455

1,237

928

0.7%

3.5%

2002

187,474

30,096

3,064

2,641

1.7%

9.6%

2003

189,837

31,331

2,363

1,235

1.3%

4.1%

2004

191,594

31,763

1,757

432

0.9%

1.4%

2005

193,525

32,558

1,931

795

1.0%

2.5%

2006

195,082

33,733

1,557

1,175

0.8%

3.6%

2007

196,850

35,017

1,768

1,284

0.9%

3.8%

2008

198,471

35,317

1,621

300

0.8%