Nevada Home to Largest Share of Illegal Workers

Cristina Silva, Bloomberg, February 2, 2011

Nevada has the largest share of illegal workers in the nation, with roughly 10 percent of its work force not authorized by the federal government, according to the Pew Hispanic Center, a nonpartisan research group.

The report published Tuesday shows a slight jump in illegal workers as Nevada’s job market has shrunk amid record unemployment. Nevada’s population of illegal workers was 9.4 percent in 2009. The Silver State’s unemployment rate has since climbed to 14.5 percent, the highest in the nation.

Nevada also has the largest share of illegal immigrants at 7.2 percent. Only 3.7 percent of people in the United States are illegal immigrants.

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Nevada’s tourism-rich economy lured foreign workers for years with promises of plentiful jobs in its construction and service industries. Immigrants urged friends and relatives to relocate to Nevada with their stories of fair wages. Employers fueled the migration, sometimes sending headhunters to Mexico and other Latin American nations to recruit affordable laborers.

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