U.S. employers pared their payrolls in January for the first time in more than four years. Nonfarm payrolls fell by an estimated 17,000—the first decline since August 2003.
Goldilocks (the "just right"
economy I`ve written about before
) may not be dead, but sheâ€™s very sick.For Hispanics, however, she may as well be dead and buried.
Hispanic employment fell by 197,000, or by 1 percent, in January. By contrast, 234,000 more non-Hispanics were employed, an increase of 0.2 percent.
January was the fifth month in a row in which Hispanic job growth lagged non-Hispanic growth.
Over the past seven years Hispanic employment
(the best available proxy for immigrant workers
) grew more than 8-times faster than native (non-Hispanic) employment.
Since late summer the roles have been reversed. From August through January 2008 Hispanics either gained jobs at lower rates, or lost jobs at greater rates, than non-Hispanics.
Over this period:
- National employment rose by 495,000 (+0.3 percent)
- Hispanic employment fell by 258,000 (-1.25 percent)
- non-Hispanic employment rose by 753,000 (+0.6 percent)
The past five months marked the longest stretch of declining native displacement
in seven yearsâ€”as clearly seen in our American Worker Displacement graphic:
This may be a cyclical downdraft, concentrated in housing and manufacturing—sectors notoriously dependent on immigrant (and often illegal) labor.
But the total January job loss in those sectors—27,000 in construction and 28,000 in manufacturing—amount to a fraction of the monthâ€™s Hispanic job decline. Hispanics are losing jobs throughout the economy.
Could the recent Hispanic job losses reflect heightened workplace enforcement?
In 2007 the federal government claimed to have ramped up enforcement efforts. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) made 4,940 workplace arrests [Worksite Enforcement fact sheet,
ICE] last year, a 13 percent increase from 2006. (In 2002 only 510 such arrests were made.)
Although fewer than 100 of the arrestees were employers, ICE obtained more than $30 million in fines, restitutions, and civil judgments against them in just the first three quarters of FY2007. (In FY2005 these fines totaled a laughable $6,500.)
This comes after years of sharp declines in enforcement activity.
But these apparent â€?spikesâ€? in enforcement activity coincide with changes in the way the enforcement statistics are presented. The happy trend may be purely statistical, unrelated to reality.
I will write about this—and other statistical legerdemain related to immigrants—in a future article.
Meanwhile, keep the champagne corked.