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Immigrants have lower unemployment than native-born


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April 14, 2006

Immigrants have lower unemployment than native-born

Michael Mandel

Here's an astounding fact, especially given the current immigration controversy. In 2005 foreign-born workers only had a 4.6% unemployment rate, substantially lower than the 5.2% for native-born workers. That's according to a new report from the Bureau of Labor Statistics, just released this morning.

The truth is that the foreign born seem to be faring better in the labor market, right across the board. Whites, blacks, Asians, Hispanics--in all cases, the foreign-born have a lower unemployment rate. It's true at every education level too, except for college grads.

The bigest unemployment edge for the foreign-born is among young workers, especially in the 16-24 year range. That has implications for the politics of immigration.

11:36 AM

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Tracked on April 17, 2006 04:44 PM

The only thing that surprises me about these stats is that they aren?? common knowledge. Everywhere you look it is obvious.

There are many ways to become an immigrant. One can stow away in a train across through hostile states and risk being mugged, shot, or thirsty. One can save for a boat/plain ticket for years in a poor country where savings is almost impossible. One can study real hard for years and get excepted in an American university. The list of ways goes on and they all have one thing in common. In order to come to America one has to overcome adversity to achieve a long term goal. Often times college graduates are more appealing to hiring companies, not for the knowledge they hold but for the adversity that they had to overcome to get the degree.

I have found while contacting FSBOs and other prospects in my short real estate career that many of the nicest homes are owned by people who have a hard time with English. I remember one in particular. The neighbors told me he tore down a nice house and built his on two lots on the canal. When I met him he proudly told me he was Greek and he invited me in to his house to show me the fancy tile that covered his floors and walls.

I asked him if owned a business and he said that he used to but is retired now. That is the ticket, immigrants are often entrepreneurs. They often create the jobs everyone swears they are taking. I?? sure the reason immigrants own so many gas stations and convenience stores is not a conspiracy; It's an entry level business opportunity for an entrepreneurial spirited person.

Is it wise to turn people like this away?

What would happen to the future balance of power swing Michael talked about between china and the US if we doubled our population?

Posted by: Joe Cushing at April 14, 2006 02:41 PM

The big gap for blacks is not a surprise. Black immigrants from the West Indies or West Africa don't have the self-limiting beliefs of domestic African Americans, and come here fully realizing that America will offer more than where they came from.

The surprise is with Asians. Asians born here have many advantages, such as American accents and parents fully committed to getting them every advantage in life. Foreign-born Asians still have to deal with culture-shock at times.

But both are doing well, at any rate.

I would think that illegals are not counted in the statistics, though. Legal immmigrants will have a higher educational level than native-born Americans at any rate, which explains the lower unemployment. Illegals have lower education rates, and potentially higher unemployment. That is why illegals are a disproportionate amount of prison inmates, but very few legal immigrants are found in prison.

Posted by: Kartik at April 14, 2006 03:40 PM

Why should we be surprised? Look at the requirements that legal resident aliens have to go through to be legal resident aliens. Since they have to be highly employable to begin with, we shouldn't be surprised that they have lower unemployment. When this group of people work their way into citizenship, or leave the country, they actually improve their numbers. I also suspect that many illegal immigrants do not show up in the unemployment numbers for obvious reasons. I'm not sure why this is a news event.

Posted by: Brian Cordell at April 18, 2006 03:23 PM

as it is usually seen the problem is that asians keep crying over things like brain drain and their natives going away to the US job market especially those in the IT industry.But the actual problem is that due to population explosion most asians are seeking jobs in the US,and why not when they certainly do have an edge over the native US students in terms of higher education which is much tougher in the asian universities.and they are being paid higher salaries in the US along with the advantage of getting the job quite easily.so these statistics are no big shock or anything.these are simply facts that are well known to all.

Posted by: divya at April 21, 2006 02:59 PM

The numbers probably _do_ include illegals. Most illegal immigrants come here purely and simply to work, if they were unemployed for more than a few weeks they would go back. Most don't have large savings or well-to-do parents to support them during a lengthy period of unemployment, and despite what you may have heard it's not that easy for an illegal to live off welfare in most states.

Posted by: mike at May 3, 2006 05:04 PM

Put me in the "no-story here folks" crowd. This does validate what I think most of us would guess. If you have the wherewithal to leave your country and come here, chances are, you are motivated and will be able to find a job. In reading the footnotes to the study, the authors do claim that these figures include illegal immigrants. Again, no story here though. It's highly unlikely that someone would pay money to a coyote to get into this country and then decide not to work once they get here. I do think though that this is more bad news for the native born African-American high school only segment. Second and third generation immigrants (legal or illegal) always tend to advance economically over their parents and grand parents.

Posted by: George at May 5, 2006 02:28 AM

This site was very helpful in helping me do a little research on my emmigration project.So thanks

Posted by: Dejon Baker at September 20, 2006 02:54 PM


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