Job Market Improves for Foreign-Born

Today’s job release showed a very surprising pattern: Compared to a year ago, the labor market for foreign-born workers appears to have improved. Meanwhile, the labor market for native-born workers appears to have worsened compared to a year ago

Foreign born workers had an unemployment rate of 8.6% in May 2010, compared to 9.1% a year in May 2009.  Native-born workers had an unemployment rate of 9.5% in May 2010, compared to 9.0% a year ago.

Let’s look at the changes over the past few months.  In this chart, remember that the unemployment rate is not seasonally adjusted. The unemployment rate for the foreign-born took a big drop between March and April. Maybe it’s the result of change in sampling procedures, maybe it has something to do with the decadal census, or maybe it’s real.

In the middle of the big immigration debate, I’m almost reluctant to put up this post–it feels like throwing fuel on the fire. But I’m a firm believer in letting numbers speak for themselves.

Comments

  1. CompEng says:

    This could mean so many completely different things I’d be hesitant to draw any conclusions without more information. Still it does seem like an odd bit of information.

  2. I suspect demographic and occupational/industry effects. Probably a large share of foreign born workers are in their prime working years. And an outsized proportion (relative to locals) of them probably works in growth industries. Of course not all foreign born workers are young hotshots in the growing parts of tech, but the proportions are probably enough to be observable in terms of a sub 1% point difference in (un)employment.

    • In other words, at most times recent importation of foreign born workers has been into recent/current growth industries, or at least industries not in precipitous decline. That will express itself in employment statistics.

  3. spencer says:

    The unemployment rate can change for numerous reasons.

    How is the actual employment comparison?

    In other words does the better unemployment rate reflect better
    employment, or does it reflect fewer foreigners because they have
    returned home?

    • Mike Mandel says:

      Better employment. Employment of foreign-born workers went up by 3%, and employment of native-born went down by 1%.

  4. spencer says:

    I checked the data.
    over the past year foreign born employment rose almost 3% while native born employment fell 1.2%.

    So the lower unemployment rate does reflect a better employment record.

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