According to a recent analysis of the November labor market data by the Center for Immigration Studies, an estimated 1.9 million more legal and illegal immigrants are working in the United States than before the Covid-19 pandemic.

Understanding this data is pivotal in disproving the big-business argument that immigration must be increased to make up for slowed arrivals during the Covid-19 pandemic; the insinuation that immigrants are now “missing” from the workforce - creating a “worker shortage” - is blatantly false.

The CIS analysis reports, to whatever extent workers are ‘missing’ from the labor force, the cause is explained by a decades-long decline in the labor force participation rate among working-age U.S.-born workers - not a single-year decline in immigration numbers.

For context, the analysis adds that “if the participation rate of the working-age returned even to the level in 2000, it would add 6.5 million to the labor force.”

Steven Camarota, the Center’s director of research and the report’s lead author, explains:

The decline in labor force participation is linked to numerous negative outcomes, including substance abuse, welfare dependency, crime, family breakup, and early death. Allowing in immigrant workers rather than encouraging Americans back into the job market means turning a blind eye to all the social problems that the low labor force participation creates.

CIS highlighted the key findings of their analysis of the November 2022 government’s household survey:

  • In November 2022, there were 29.6 million immigrants (legal and illegal together) working in the United States — 1.9 million more than in November 2019, before the pandemic.
  • The 29.6 million immigrant workers in November was one million above the long-term trend in the pre-Covid growth rate of immigrant workers — immigrant workers are not “missing.”
  • In contrast to immigrants, there were 2.1 million fewer U.S.-born Americans working in November 2022 than in November 2019, before the pandemic.
  • The labor force participation rate of the U.S.-born — the share of the working-age (16-64) holding a job or looking for one — has declined for decades, primarily those without a bachelor’s degree. These individuals do not show up as unemployed because they have not looked for work in the last four weeks.
  • If their labor force participation rate of the U.S.-born who are working-age was what it was in 2000, there would be 6.5 million more U.S.-born Americans in the labor force.

The highlights conclude with an examination of the overall foreign-born population currently in the U.S. labor force. The overall foreign-born:

  • The overall legal and illegal immigrant, or foreign born, population — both workers and non-workers — was 48.4 million in November. This is a new record high in American history and 3.4 million more than in January 2021 when President Biden took office.
  • We estimate that some 60 percent or roughly two million of this 3.4 million increase is due to illegal immigration.
  • At 14.7 percent of the total U.S. population, immigrants are now just slightly below the all-time high reached in 1890 of 14.8 percent. If the present trend continues, the share will surpass the all-time high sometime next year.
  • Those calling for even more immigration on behalf of employers seem unware of the current scale of immigration and its implications for the nation’s schools, healthcare system, infrastructure, environment and social cohesion.

You can read the complete report, including comprehensive data and graphics, at the Center for Immigration Studies' website.

Updated: Thu, May 11th 2023 @ 3:23pm EDT