Thursday, May 25, 2017

Labor Force Characteristics of Foreign-born Workers

From the Bureau of Labor Statistics:
The unemployment rate for foreign-born persons in the United States was 4.3 percent in 2016, down from 4.9 percent in 2015, the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics reported. The jobless rate of native-born persons fell to 5.0 percent in 2016 from 5.4 percent in the prior year.

Data on nativity are collected as part of the Current Population Survey (CPS), a monthly sample survey of approximately 60,000 households. The foreign born are persons who reside in the United States but who were born outside the country or one of its outlying areas to parents who were not U.S. citizens. The foreign born include legally-admitted immigrants, refugees, temporary residents such as students and temporary workers, and undocumented immigrants. The survey data, however, do not separately identify the numbers of persons in these categories.

Highlights from the 2016 data:

--In 2016, there were 27.0 million foreign-born persons in the U.S. labor force, comprising 16.9 percent of the total.

--Hispanics accounted for 48.3 percent of the foreign-born labor force in 2016, and Asians accounted for 25.0 percent.

--Foreign-born workers were more likely than native-born workers to be employed in service occupations and less likely to be employed in management, professional, and related occupations.

--The median usual weekly earnings of foreign-born full-time wage and salary workers were $715 in 2016, compared with $860 for their native-born counterparts. (

Demographic Characteristics

The demographic composition of the foreign-born labor force differs from that of the native-born labor force. In 2016, men accounted for 57.9 percent of the foreign-born labor force, compared with 52.3 percent of the native-born labor force. By age, the proportion of the foreign-born labor force made up of 25- to 54-year-olds (73.4 percent) was higher than for the native-born labor force (62.4 percent). Labor force participation is typically highest among persons in that age bracket.



In 2016, nearly half (48.3 percent) of the foreign-born labor force was Hispanic, and one-quarter (25.0 percent) was Asian, compared with 10.4 percent and 1.9 percent, respectively, of the native-born labor force. About 16.2 percent of the foreign-born labor force was White and 9.3 percent was Black, compared with 73.0 percent and 12.1
percent, respectively, of the native-born labor force.

In 2016, 22.4 percent of the foreign-born labor force age 25 and over had not completed high school, compared with 4.5 percent of the native-born labor force. The foreign born
were less likely than the native born to have some college or an associate degree--17.0 percent versus 29.8 percent. The proportions for foreign-born and native-born persons were more similar for those with a bachelor's degree or higher (35.9 percent and 39.6 percent, respectively) and for high school graduates, no college (24.7 percent and 26.1 percent, respectively).

Labor Force

The share of the U.S. civilian labor force that was foreign born increased to 16.9 percent in 2016 from 16.7 percent in 2015; it was 13.3 percent in 2000.

In 2016, the labor force participation rate of the foreign born was 65.2 percent, unchanged from the prior year. The participation rate for the native born was 62.3 percent in 2016, little different from 2015. The participation rate of foreign-born men was 77.8 percent in 2016, higher than the rate of 67.5 percent for native-born men. In contrast, 53.4 percent of foreign-born women were labor force participants, lower than the rate of 57.5 percent for native-born women.

Among the major race and ethnicity groups in 2016, labor force participation rates for foreign-born Whites (59.0 percent), Blacks (70.1 percent), Asians (63.1 percent), and
Hispanics (67.9 percent) were little different from the prior year. The participation rates for native-born Whites (62.4 percent), Blacks (60.1 percent), Asians (62.6 percent),
and Hispanics (64.0 percent) also showed little change from 2015 to 2016.

In 2016, foreign-born mothers with children under 18 years old were less likely to be labor force participants than were native-born mothers--58.9 percent versus 73.9 percent.
Labor force participation differences between foreign-born and native-born mothers were greater among those with younger children than among those with older children. The labor force participation rate of foreign-born mothers with children under age 6 was 49.5 percent in 2016, much lower than that for native-born mothers with children under age 6, at 69.0 percent. Among women with children under age 3, the participation rate for the foreign born (44.3 percent) was 22.1 percentage points below that for native-born mothers (66.4 percent). The labor force participation rates of foreign-born and native-born fathers with children under age 18 were more similar, at 93.5 percent and 92.6 percent, respectively.

By region, the foreign born made up a larger share of the labor force in the West (24.1 percent) and the Northeast (19.5 percent) than for the nation as a whole (16.9 percent) in 2016. In contrast, the foreign born made up a smaller share of the labor force than for the nation as a whole in the South (16.1 percent) and the Midwest (8.6 percent).

Unemployment

From 2015 to 2016, the unemployment rate of the foreign born declined from 4.9 percent to 4.3 percent, and the jobless rate for the native born fell from 5.4 percent to 5.0
percent. The over-the-year decrease in the unemployment rates of the foreign born and the native born reflected decreases in the rates for both men and women. The unemployment rate for foreign-born men fell from 4.5 percent to 3.8 percent, and the rate for foreign-born women was down from 5.6 percent to 5.1 percent. Among the native born, the rate for men fell from 5.6 percent to 5.2 percent, while the rate for women was down from 5.1 percent to 4.7 percent.

For both the foreign born and the native born, jobless rates vary considerably by race and ethnicity. Among the foreign born, Blacks had the highest unemployment rate (6.1
percent) in 2016. The unemployment rates were 4.7 percent for Hispanics, 3.7 percent for Whites, and 3.4 percent for Asians. Among the native born, Blacks also had the highest jobless rate (8.8 percent), followed by Hispanics (6.8 percent). The unemployment rates were 4.2 percent for Asians and 4.0 percent for Whites.

Occupation

In 2016, foreign-born workers were more likely than native-born workers to be employed in service occupations (23.5 percent versus 16.5 percent); in production, transportation,
and material moving occupations (14.8 percent versus 11.1 percent); and in natural resources, construction, and maintenance occupations (13.6 percent versus 8.3 percent).

Native-born workers were more likely than foreign-born workers to be employed in management, professional, and related occupations (40.7 percent versus 32.2 percent) and in sales and office occupations (23.4 percent versus 15.9 percent).

Among the employed, foreign-born men were more likely than native-born men to work in natural resources, construction, and maintenance occupations; in production, transportation, and material moving occupations; and in service occupations. Compared with employed native-born women, employed foreign-born women were more likely to be in service occupations; in production, transportation, and material moving occupations; and in natural resources, construction, and maintenance occupations. The disparity was especially great in service occupations--32.5 percent of employed foreign-born women worked in service occupations in 2016, compared with 19.4 percent of employed native-born women. In contrast, employed native-born men and women were more likely than their foreign-born counterparts to be in management, professional, and related occupations and in sales and office occupations.

Earnings

In 2016, the median usual weekly earnings of foreign-born full-time wage and salary workers ($715) were 83.1 percent of the earnings of their native-born counterparts ($860). Among men, median weekly earnings for the foreign born ($751) were 79.0 percent of the earnings of the native born ($951). Median earnings for foreign-born women ($655) were 86.0 percent of the earnings of their native-born counterparts ($762). Differences in earnings reflect a variety of factors, including variations in the distributions of foreign-born and native-born workers by educational attainment, occupation, industry, and geographic region.

Among the major race and ethnicity groups, Hispanic foreign-born full-time wage and salary workers earned 83.5 percent as much as their native-born counterparts in 2016. For Black workers, earnings for the foreign born and the native born were relatively close. For White and Asian workers, earnings for the foreign born were slightly higher than for the native born.

The earnings of both foreign-born and native-born workers increase with education. In 2016, foreign-born workers age 25 and over with less than a high school education earned
$489 per week, while those with a bachelor's degree and higher earned about 2.7 times as much--$1,311 per week. Among the native born, those with a bachelor's degree and higher
earned about 2.4 times as much as those with less than a high school education--$1,253 versus $525 per week.

Native-born workers earn more than foreign-born workers at most educational attainment levels. Among foreign-born full-time workers, those with less than a high school diploma
earned 93.1 percent as much as their native-born counterparts, compared with 85.8 percent for high school graduates, no college, and 90.0 percent for those with some college or an associate's degree. The gap between the earnings of foreign-born and native-born workers closes at higher levels of education; among those with a bachelor's degree and higher,
the earnings of foreign-born workers ($1,311) were not much different from the earnings of native-born workers ($1,253).

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