American unemployment rate at 30% and 17% of U.S. jobs are held by foreign nationals
03/29/2016 / By Chris Draper / Comments
American unemployment rate at 30% and 17% of U.S. jobs are held by foreign nationals

The unemployment rate for American born citizens  is worse than U.S. immigrants. The Pew Charitable Trusts recently released data on the probability of American immigrants obtaining employment versus American citizens in 13 major industries in all 50 states of America, and the results are sobering.(1)

Pew’s online interactive tool adds on these data to contrast the workforce distribution of immigrants to U.S. born citizens in all states with national figures. The following highlights some of the key points unearthed by the study, which reflect the asymmetry between the unemployment rates of U.S. citizens versus the unemployment rates of the immigrants.

According to the data, on a national level, immigrants are spread out differently across industries than American citizens. Immigrants are more likely than U.S. workers to hold jobs in six of the 13 major industry reviews, like manufacturing and administrative services.(1)

Foreign workers more likely to take U.S. jobs despite immigrant population size

In addition, the distribution of immigrants across the industries varies state by state, but some trends are more pervasive than others. Many industries reflect patterns based on their geographical stance. For instance, immigrants are far more likely to be employed than U.S. born workers  in construction in the Southern states.(1)

Furthermore, immigrants are less likely than U.S. born citizens to be employed in seven industries at the national level. However, they may be more likely to be employed in one or more of those industries in distinct states. For instance, nationally, immigrants are less likely than U.S. born citizens to be employed in education, management services and the hard sciences. Nevertheless, in several states, immigrants are more likely to work in these niches than U.S. born citizens.(1)


Last, the distribution of immigrants and U.S. citizens in industries can vary, despite the size of a state’s immigration population. In Montana, which has a relatively small foreign-born population, immigrants are more likely than U.S. citizen to be employed in five sectors, including education services, health care and social services, leisure and hospitality, science and management services.(1)

One the other hand, in comparison to Montana, California, which has a large immigrant population, has foreign workers who are more likely than U.S. citizens to be employed in six sectors, including leisure, hospitality and manufacturing.

Making sense of the data

In an effort to make sense of these findings, the Labor Department recently released an article analyzing why people who are not in the work force are unemployed. The report found that 87.4 million people 16 years or older were neither employed nor seeking employment throughout 2014.(2)

Among this group, 38.5 million people stated retirement as the foremost reason for not working. Approximately 16.3 million people said they were ill or had a disability, and 16 million said they were attending school. An additional 13.5 million said home responsibilities restrained them from working in 2014, and 3.1 million people gave “other reasons.”(2)

The number of Americans not in the labor force last month clocked in at 94,103,000, which is a mild improvement from the labor force last November set at 94,446,000. However, these figures are more likely a reflection of a surge in employed immigrants rather than U.S. born citizens.(2)

Many Americans fear undocumented immigrants are taking jobs away from U.S. citizens, according to a poll released in August 2015. The Rasmussen Reports discovered approximately 51 percent of Americans believe they are competing against immigrants living in the country without work permits. About 66 percent of respondents said they wanted the U.S. government to crack down on employers who hire immigrants without a work permit, the highest estimate in nearly four years.(3)

Immigrants without work permits have an increased advantage in the work force compared to the rest of the U.S. population. The share of unauthorized workers with management and professional jobs increased 13 percent in 2013, from 10 percent in 2007.(3)

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