Census Finds Rise in Foreign Workers

Sam Roberts, New York Times, December 8, 2009

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Because of government barriers to immigration, the share of foreign-born workers dipped from a 20th-century high of 21 percent in 1910 to barely 5 percent in 1970, but has been rising since then, to the current 16 percent.

In 2007, immigrants accounted for more than one in four workers in California (35 percent), New York (27 percent), New Jersey (26 percent) and Nevada (25 percent).

For the first time, the Census Bureau also compared immigrants by generation. Generally, income and other measures of achievement rose from one generation to the next, although educational attainment peaked with the second generation.

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Similarly, the overall proportion of immigrant families living below the government’s official poverty level declined, from 16.5 percent to 14.5 to 11.5 among three generations. But among adult immigrants, the proportion who are poor grew again between the second and third generations.

While the proportion of high school graduates increased from one generation to the next, the share who had bachelor’s degrees or more higher education declined from the second to the third generations. The proportion with doctorates peaked with the first generation.

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