Byron York, Washington Examiner, September 22, 2011
With both jobs and immigration likely topics of sharp debate at tonight’s Republican debate here in Florida, a new report suggests that newly-arrived immigrants have filled a majority of new jobs created in Texas, home to Republican frontrunner Gov. Rick Perry.
“Of jobs created in Texas since 2007, 81 percent were taken by newly arrived immigrant workers (legal and illegal),” says the report from the Center for Immigration Studies, a group that advocates reduced levels of both legal and illegal immigration. The report estimates that about 40 percent of the new jobs were taken by illegal immigrants, while 40 percent were taken by legal immigrants. The vast majority of both groups, legal and illegal, were not American citizens.
Native-born Americans filled just 20 percent of the new jobs in Texas, the report says, even though “the native born accounted for 69 percent of the growth in Texas’ working-age population.” “Thus, even though natives made up most of the growth in potential workers, most of the job growth went to immigrants,” the report concludes.
The report is based on analysis of the Census Bureau’s Current Population Survey.
The study notes that 56 percent of newly-arrived immigrants in Texas since 2007 have had a high-school degree or less. But it also notes that “More than one out three…of newly arrived immigrants who took a job had at least some college.” It would be a mistake, the report concludes, “to assume that immigrants are only competing for jobs at the bottom end of the labor market.”
In a press release accompanying the study, the Center for Immigration Studies makes a clear effort to cast doubt on Perry’s record. The relevant portion of that release:
Some may argue that it was the arrival of immigrants in the state that stimulated what job growth there was for natives. But, if immigration stimulates job growth for natives, the numbers in Texas would look very different. The unemployment rate and the employment rate (share holding job) of natives in Texas show a dramatic deterioration during the recession that is similar to the rest of the country. Among the native-born, Texas ranks 22nd in terms of unemployment and 29th in terms of its employment rate. Outside of Texas many of the top immigrant-receiving states have the worst economies. Unemployment in the 10-top immigrant-receiving states in 2011 averaged 8.7 percent, compared to 7.2 percent on average in the 10 states where the fewest immigrants arrived since 2007. These figures do not settle the longstanding debate over the economics of immigration. What they do show is that high immigration is not necessarily associated with positive labor market outcomes for the native-born.