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Study: Two-thirds of U.S. jobs under 'recovery' went to immigrants

By Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)
November 2nd, 2012
Catholic Online (www.catholic.org)

The Center for Immigration Studies, which wants the government to impose stricter limits on immigration, has released a startling study based on U.S. Census Bureau results. For the last three years, two-thirds of those who have found employment are immigrants, both legal and illegal. The report implies that what little job growth there has been in the U.S. has been taken by those of non-native heritage.

LOS ANGELES, CA (Catholic Online) - According to the authors of this report, this could very well explain why Obama and Republican nominee Mitt Romney have struggled to find a winning jobs message in some of the country's hardest-hit postindustrial regions.

"It's extraordinary that most of the employment growth in the last four years has gone to the foreign-born, but what's even more extraordinary is the issue has not even come up during a presidential election that is so focused on jobs," Steven A. Camarota, the center's research director, who wrote the report says.

The report reads that since the first quarter of 2009, the number of immigrants of working age (16 to 65) who are employed has risen two million, from 21.2 million to 23.2 million. Native-born employment for the same period has risen just one million, to reach 119.9 million.

It's been an ongoing trend. For example, in 2000, 76 percent of natives aged 18 to 65 were employed, but that dropped steadily to 69 percent this September. Immigrants started the last decade at 71 percent employment and rose to a peak of 74 percent at the height of the George W. Bush-era economic boom.

Non-native Americans have slid down to 69 percent amid the sluggish economy.

There are several dissenting voices to this report. For example, Alex Nowrasteh, a policy analyst at the Cato Institute -- which favors letting the markets rather than the government control the flow of immigration, says that the statistics cited in the report are "making a mountain out of a molehill."

Immigrants have had improved employment chances over the past four years as they generally gravitate toward parts of the economy that have picked up faster in the nascent recovery, Nowrasteh says.

"Most of the areas of the U.S. economy that are hiring right now, like agriculture and high-tech industries, are those where immigrants have always been overly represented," Nowrasteh says.

Immigrants are quicker to jump into the rebounding job market while native-born Americans, who under federal law have more welfare options and access to unemployment benefits, are slower to find work.

Both Nowrasteh and Camarota say that yet another factor could be immigrants' mobility.

Lifelong Americans have roots wherever they live, and it may take higher wages to get them to move for jobs, even if their homes are in depressed areas. Immigrants already have uprooted themselves and can more easily pick places where jobs are available.

Camarota's report shows that most of the immigrant employment growth went to new arrivals, not to foreign-born residents already in the United States - a figure that suggests immigrants already settled here was having some of the same difficulties as the native-born.

There is some bright news: an uptick over the past year among native-born Americans accounting for two-thirds of all new employment growth.

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