Center for Immigration Studies, June 26, 2014
On June 27, 2013, the Senate passed the Schumer-Rubio immigration bill (S.744) which, among other things, doubled the levels of legal immigration and guestworkers. One year after that vote, a new Center for Immigration Studies report suggests just how out of touch the bill was from the realities of the labor market.
Since the year 2000 all of the net increase in the number of working-age (16 to 65) people holding a job has gone to immigrants (legal and illegal), according to the report. This is a remarkable statistic given that native-born Americans accounted for two-thirds of the growth in the total working-age population.
Although there has been some recovery from the Great Recession, fewer working-age natives held a job in the first quarter of 2014 than in 2000, while the number of immigrants with a job rose 5.7 million above the 2000 level. “With 58 million working-age natives not working, the Schumer-Rubio bill and similar House measures, which would substantially increase the number of foreign workers allowed in the country, seem entirely disconnected from the realities of the U.S. labor market,” said Dr. Steven Camarota, co-author of the report and the Center’s Director of Research.
View the entire report here.
Three conclusions can be drawn from the report’s analysis:
- The long-term decline in the employment for natives across age and education levels is a clear indication that there is no general labor shortage, a primary justification for the large increases in immigration (skilled and unskilled) in the Schumer-Rubio bill and similar House proposals.
- The decline in work among the native-born over the last 14 years of high immigration is consistent with research showing that immigration reduces employment for natives.
- The trends since 2000 challenge the argument that immigration on balance increases job opportunities for natives. Over 17 million immigrants arrived in the country in the last 14 years, a time period in which native employment has deteriorated significantly.
Among the findings of the new report:
• The total number of working-age (16 to 65) immigrants (legal and illegal) holding a job increased 5.7 million from the first quarter of 2000 to the first quarter of 2014, while declining 127,000 for natives.
• In the first quarter of 2000, 114.8 million working-age natives held a job, compared to 114.7 in the first quarter of 2014.
• Because the native-born population grew significantly, but the number working actually fell, there were 17 million more working-age natives not working in the first quarter of 2014 than in 2000.
• The long-term decline in the share of working-age natives holding a job began before the 2007 recession, falling from 74 percent in 2000 to 71 percent in 2007. It is now an abysmal 66 percent, improving only slightly since the bottom of the recession.
• The decline in work has impacted work of virtually every race, gender, age, and education level.
• Immigrants have made gains across the labor market, including lower-skilled jobs such as maintenance, construction, and food service; middle-skilled jobs like office support and health care support; and higher-skilled jobs, including management, computers, and health care practitioners.
• Immigration has fallen in recent years. But despite the economy, between 2008 and the start of 2014, 6.5 million new immigrants (legal and illegal) settled in the country and three million got jobs. Over the same time, the number of working-age natives holding a job declined 3.4 million.
• In contrast to natives, the employment rate of working-age immigrants increased from 2000 to 2007 and has recovered more quickly from the Great Recession than the native rate, though it has not fully recovered.
• Since the jobs recovery began in 2010, 43 percent of employment growth has gone to immigrants.
• If the employment rate of working-age natives in the first quarter of this year were what it was in 2007, 7.9 million more natives would have a job. If the share working were what it was in the first quarter of 2000, 12.5 million more natives would have a job today.
• The supply of potential workers already in the country is enormous. A total of 69 million working-age immigrants and natives were not working in the first quarter of 2014, with an additional 7.3 million forced to work part-time despite wanting full-time work.