Immigrants in the U.S suffering more than native-born workers from economic downturn


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Immigrants in the United States surpassed native-born workers in several key ways from the mid-1990s through 2007, recording higher employment and lower jobless rates.

But that trend was reversed with the onset of the current recession, according to the latest report from the Migration Policy Institute.


The report titled ‘Tied to the Business Cycle: How Immigrants Fare in Good and Bad Economic Times’ analyzes employment and unemployment patterns over the last 15 years and two recessions. It shows that economic measurements for immigrants began deteriorating before the current recession officially began in December 2007, tracing immigrants’ declining fortunes largely to the housing bust that began in spring 2006.

Immigrants now comprise 13% of the U.S. population and a slightly larger share -- more than 15% -- of the labor force. The report goes on to say about immigrants from Latin America:

‘The fact that Latino immigrants have particularly cyclical labor market outcomes is interesting because several forces exacerbate cyclicality while others smooth outcomes among this group. The relatively low education levels among Latin American immigrants increase their vulnerability to the business cycle. Unauthorized immigration also plays a role. Over half of Mexican immigrants are in the United States illegally, and the number of workers illegally crossing the U.S.-Mexico border changes quickly in response to shifts in employment conditions in the United States. This illegal immigration tends to increase the cyclicality of Latin American immigrants’ employment and unemployment rates because many unauthorized immigrants enter only when they can find work,’ says the report.

Click on the links to the report above to find out more about the research.

-- Deborah Bonello in Mexico City