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A recent analysis by the Center for Immigration Studies of public-use data released earlier this month by the Bureau of Labor Statistics shows that while there was some improvement in the number and share of native-born Americans and immigrants (legal and illegal) out of work, unemployment remains extraordinarily high.

The unemployment rate improved slightly more for immigrants than for the native-born between May and June, but native unemployment at 10.7 percent remains a good deal lower than the 13.8 percent for immigrants.

Despite the recent improvement, the 18.1 million unemployed immigrants and natives in June is still nearly three times what it was in June last year.

While workers of every education level have experienced significant job losses during the Covid-19 shutdown, the situation for workers without a college education is especially bleak. It remains extremely difficult to justify the continued entry of new immigrants on the grounds of any "labor shortage".

Here are some of the studies findings:

The unemployment rate for native-born Americans (ages 16-plus) was 10.7 percent in June. While lower than the 12.4 percent in May, it is still almost three times what it was before Covid-19 hit. Among immigrants (ages 16-plus), the rate was 13.8 percent in June, compared to 15.8 percent in May. The immigrant rate is still nearly four times what it was before Covid-19.

The number of natives and immigrants unemployed declined by about 12 percent for both groups between May and June. Still, the number of natives and immigrants unemployed stood at 18.1 million, nearly three times what it was in February, before Covid-19 hit.

In addition to the unemployed, there were 45.7 million working-age (16-64) native-born and 9.4 million working-age immigrants entirely out of the labor force — neither working nor looking for work. This is still 1.7 million higher for the native-born and 800,000 higher for immigrants than it was in February.

We estimate the unemployment rate for legal immigrants in June was 13.3 percent, an improvement from the 15.6 percent in May. The rate for illegal immigrants was 15.1 percent, an improvement from 16.4 percent in May.

Among those without a college education:

The unemployment rate for the native-born (ages 25-plus) without a bachelor’s degree was 10.8 percent in June, compared to 6.6 percent for those with at least a bachelor’s. Among immigrants (ages 25-plus), 16.3 percent without a bachelor’s degree were unemployed, compared to 8.9 percent with a bachelor’s.

The unemployment rate (combined immigrant and native-born) in many jobs typically performed by the less-educated has improved but remains high.

  • 28.5 percent for food preparers and servers
  • 21.4 percent for maids and housekeepers
  • 20.1 percent for retail salespersons
  • 15 percent for construction laborers
  • 7.2 percent for health care aides and nursing assistants

The Covid-19 shutdown has exacerbated the long-term decline in the labor force participation rate (share working or looking for work) of the less-educated. In June 2020, only 67 percent of working-age (16-64) natives without a bachelor’s degree were in the labor force, down from 72 percent in 2007 and 76 percent in 2000.

Focusing only on men who are of prime working age (25 to 54) still shows a long-term decline in labor force participation. The share of these native-born men without a bachelors in the labor force was 83 percent in June 2020, compared to 88 percent in June 2007 and 90 percent in June 2000.

For the full study, and information on methods, please visit the Center for Immigration Studies.

Updated: Mon, Aug 10th 2020 @ 2:05pm EDT