Times are Tougher for Foreign-born Workers in US

hispanic workerWe hear a lot of complaining about immigrant workers coming in and taking all the available jobs, but know that for the foreign born, the unemployment situation is even worse than it is for those born in the USA. While the jobless rate for US natives increased from 5.8 percent in 2008 to 9.2 percent in 2009, the jobless rate for workers born in other countries rose from 5.8 percent to 9.7 percent in 2009. That's the worst it's been since 2003, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics.

In addition, the median income for foreign-born workers was considerably less than the US natives' in 2009. The median weekly income of foreign-born full-time wage and salary workers was $602, compared with $761 for the native-born. Among men, the median income for the foreign-born was $620 per week, while the native-born earned $864 per week. Foreign-born women earned a median income of $567 per week, compared with $670 for native-born women.

-- Find out how your salary stacks up.

The recently released numbers revealed some other fascinating facts about foreign-born workers in the US. Among them:

  • The number of foreign-born workers in 2009 was 23.9 million, making up 15.5 percent of the U.S. civilian labor force. Those numbers haven't changed much from 2008.

  • Hispanics accounted for 50.1 percent of the foreign-born labor force, and another 22.3 percent was Asian.

  • The number of foreign-born white non-Hispanics in the labor force declined, while the number of foreign-born in the other major race and ethnicity groups showed little change.

  • In 2009, men made up a larger proportion of the foreign-born labor force (59.3 percent) than they did of the native-born labor force (52.2 per-cent).

  • 26.7 percent of the foreign-born labor force 25-years-old and over had not completed high school, compared with 5.7 percent of the native-born labor force.

  • Foreign-born workers were less likely than native-born workers to have some college or an associate degree --17.0 versus 29.8 percent.

  • By region, the foreign-born made up a larger share of the labor force in 2009 in the West (23.8 percent) and in the Northeast (17.9 percent) than for the nation as a whole (15.5 percent). In contrast, the foreign-born made up a smaller share of the labor force than for the nation in the South (13.8 percent) and Midwest (7.7 percent).


These numbers and statistics might lead some to believe that America is not the land of golden opportunities that many immigrants once imagined it to be. In fact, the number of US immigrants dropped last year, by about 100,000, from 12.6 percent of the population to 12.5 percent. That may seem like only a handful, but it's the first time that number has dropped in more than four years.

Next: Unemployment: Who's Been Hit the Hardest? >>

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