Government data from its Current Population Survey (and compiled by the Center for Immigration Studies) demonstrate that millions of Americans of all ages and education levels are currently unemployed, while the number of immigrant workers in the United States continues to increase. Other work by CIS has shown that this is the result of a long-term trend where immigrants are being hired at a faster rate than U.S.-born workers.

While the economy is performing better than it was during the depth of the Great Recession of 2008-2009, many millions more Americans are now out of work than in 2007, and millions more who have returned to work have had to take lower paying jobs, or are only working part-time.

The relatively low "official unemployment rate" (U-3) is masking a far greater problem. The percentage of the working-age population who are employed is the lowest it has been in over 35 years, and as of June 2019 there were 52.5 million men and women between the ages of 16 and 64 who were unemployed yet classified by the government as "not in the labor force," so they were not included in the calculation of the official unemployment rate.

The federal government does have a broader measure of unemployment which gives a better picture of how many Americans want full-time work. The U-6 unemployment rate includes individuals who want a full-time job but are unemployed, have given up their job search, or have settled for part-time employment in the interim).

U-6 UNEMPLOYMENT RATE (June 2019): 7.2% (11.9 million)

The official U-3 rate can also be misleading because it averages the unemployment rate for all those included in the civilian labor force. This can mask the severity of unemployment for certain groups. For instance, the unemployment rate for Blacks is almost double that for Whites.


All American Citizens

  • 3.6% ages 16+ (5.3 million) NILF: 42.4 million
  • 11.9% teens (235,000) NILF: 6.5 million
  • 8.7% for those with less than a high school education (653,000) NILF: 6.3 million
  • 4.5% for those with a high school degree only (1.7 million) NILF: 14.2 million
  • 2.1% for all college graduates (1.2 million) NILF: 8.4 million, and 3.2% for college graduates under age 30 (249,000) NILF 1.1 million.

Black Americans (U.S.-born)

  • 6.6% ages 16+ (1.1 million) NILF: 6.2 million
  • 19.8% teens (48,000) NILF: 885,000
  • 16.7% for those with less than a high school education (156,0010) NILF: 1.3 million
  • 7.9% for those with a high school degree (413,000) NILF: 2.4 million
  • 2.8% for all college graduates (130,000) NILF: 702,000, and 2.9% for college graduates under age 30 (20,000) NILF: 95,000.

Hispanic Americans

  • 4.5% ages 16+ (912,000 million) NILF: 6.3 million
  • 17.9% teens (56,000) NILF: 1.5 million
  • 7.8% for those with less than a high school education (200,000) NILF: 1.5 million
  • 4.8% for those with a high school degree (314,000) NILF: 2.2 million
  • 2.6% for all college graduates (116,000) NILF: 695,000, and 2.6% for college graduates under age 30 (22,000) NILF: 115,000.

Foreign workers compete with the laid-off and underemployed highly-skilled Americans in some professions and occupations, primarily in the tech industry, but most foreign workers compete directly in the construction, service, and manufacturing industries where unemployment is the highest and where Americans have the least margin of financial security.

U.S. immigration policy does not automatically adjust to changing economic conditions, and is not a function of U.S. labor market conditions.