Study: All net gain in U.S. employment has gone to immigrants

Steven Camarota and Karen Zeigler of the Center for Immigration Studies have published a study called “Immigrant Gains and Native Losses In the Job Market, 2000 to 2013.” The title tells the tale — immigrant gains in employment have been substantial and natives have been the losers. According to Camarota and Zeigler:

A new analysis of government data shows that all of the net gain in employment over the last 13 years has gone to immigrants (legal and illegal). From the first quarter of 2000 to the first quarter of 2013, the number of natives working actually fell by 1.3 million while the overall size of the working-age (16 to 65) native population increased by 16.4 million. Over the same time period, the number of immigrants working (legal and illegal) increased by 5.3 million.

In addition to the decline in the number of natives working, there has been a broad decline in the percentage holding a job that began before the 2007 recession. This decline has impacted natives of almost every age, race, gender, and education level. The total number of working-age (16 to 65) natives not working — unemployed or out of the labor force entirely — was nearly 59 million in the first quarter of this year, a figure that has changed little in the last three years and is nearly 18 million larger than in 2000.

(Emphasis added)

Thus, the data do not support the argument of Schumer-Rubio proponents that the nation’s workforce isn’t large enough.

The argument that immigration creates jobs for natives fares no better in the Camarota-Zeigler study. Put simply, they find that it hasn’t happened during the past 13 years.

From the first quarter of 2000 to the first quarter of 2007, immigration levels were very high, yet the share of natives with a job actually fell. From 2008 to the start of 2013, an estimated 5.4 million new immigrants arrived, but job growth has been very weak during the recovery.

Finally, the data undermine the “jobs Americans won’t do” argument:

Of the 472 civilian occupations defined by the Department of Commerce, only six are majority immigrant (legal and illegal). These six occupations account for 1 percent of the total U.S. workforce. Many jobs often thought to be overwhelmingly immigrant (legal and illegal) are in fact majority native-born.

For example, 51 percent of maids and housekeepers are U.S.-born, as are 63 percent of butchers and meat processors. It is also the case that 64 percent of grounds maintenance workers are U.S.-born, as are 66 percent of construction laborers and 73 percent of janitors. It is simply not the case that there are jobs that Americans do not do.

The Congressional Budget Office has found that the Schumer-Rubio legislation would result in a significant increase in the level of immigration. The Camarota-Zeigler study should give the House great pause about whether doing so is a good idea.

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