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CIS: Native-born employment still below 2007 levels

author Published by Chris Chmielenski

A new report from the Center for Immigration Studies, examining data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics, found that native-born employment levels are still below their pre-recession, 2007 levels. According to the report, there were 1.5 million fewer native-born Americans over the age of 16 with a job in November of 2014 compared with November of 2007 despite an increase of 11 million in the group’s population. Over the same time frame, the number of foreign-born workers over the age of 16 increased by 2 million.

Here are the report’s findings:

  • The BLS reports that 23.1 million adult (16-plus) immigrants (legal and illegal) were working in November 2007 and 25.1 million were working in November of this year — a two million increase. For natives, 124.01 million were working in November 2007 compared to 122.56 million in November 2014 — a 1.46 million decrease.
  • Although all of the employment growth has gone to immigrants, natives accounted for 69 percent of the growth in the 16 and older population from 2007 to 2014.
  • The number of immigrants working returned to pre-recession levels by the middle of 2012, and has continued to climb. But the number of natives working remains almost 1.5 million below the November 2007 level.
  • More recently, natives have done somewhat better. However, even with job growth in the last two years (November 2012 to November 2014), 45 percent of employment growth has gone to immigrants, though they comprise only 17 percent of the labor force.
  • The number of officially unemployed (looking for work in the prior four weeks) adult natives has declined in recent years. But the number of natives not in the labor force (neither working nor looking for work) continues to grow.
  • The number of adult natives 16-plus not in the labor force actually increased by 693,000 over the last year, November 2013 to November of 2014.
  • Compared to November 2007, the number of adult natives not in the labor force is 11.1 million larger in November of this year.
  • In total, there were 79.1 million adult natives and 13.5 million adult immigrants not in the labor force in November 2014. There were an additional 8.6 million immigrant and native adults officially unemployed.
  • The percentage of adult natives in the labor force (the participation rate) did not improve at all in the last year.
  • All of the information in BLS Table A-7 indicates there is no labor shortage in the United States, even as many members of Congress and the president continue to support efforts to increase the level of immigration, such as S.744 , which passed in the Senate last year. That bill would have roughly doubled the number of immigrants allowed into the country from one million annually to two million.2
  • It will take many years of sustained job growth just to absorb the enormous number of people, primarily native-born, who are currently not working and return the country to the labor force participation rate of 2007. If we continue to allow in new immigration at the current pace or choose to increase the immigration level, it will be even more difficult for the native-born to make back the ground they have lost in the labor market.

You can read the full study at

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