National Data | April Jobs: Dismal Numbers For Immigrants And Americans—But Could Legal Immigration Be Increasing?

Only 115,000 jobs were created in April, well below the modest expectations of most economists. It was the second successive month in which the U.S. economy failed to generate enough jobs to absorb workers who lost jobs in the recession. For perspective: the US also adds close to 100,000 legal immigrants a month— as well as workers on various temporary worker visas, for example some 7,000 H-1B visas a month.

Of course, the unemployment rate fell to 8.1% from 8.2%—a factoid surely to be trumpeted by the Obama administration. But, as even the MSM seems to be recognizing, in fact unemployment fell mainly because the labor force shrank—by a whopping 342,000—as unemployed workers became too discouraged to look for work. [See The Vanishing Workers, WSJ, May 4, 2012]

Nationally, the labor force participation rate declined in April. Not all groups saw reason to bail out of the labor force, however:

Labor force participation rate by race/ethnicity

(share of working age population working or looking for work)

 

March 2012

April 2012

% pt. change

Total

62.8%

63.6%

-0.2 %

White

64.2%

64.0%

-0.2 %

Black

61.9%

61.3%

-0.6 %

Asian (a)

63.6% (a)

62.4% (a)

-1.4%

Hispanic

66.2%

66.4%

+0.2 %

a. Not seasonally adjusted.

 

In other words, Hispanics are continuing to crowd into the work force. By contrast, and possibly in consequence, whites and (especially) blacks, exited the labor force.

What do the April numbers tell us? A seasonal slowdown rather than outright recession is the conclusion drawn by most journalists and professional economists.

But the R-word may be closer than the herd thinks. The “other” employment survey, of households rather than businesses, reports a decline of 169,000 jobs last month. This on the heels of a 31,000 job reduction in March.

Our analysis of seasonally unadjusted data finds that, unusually, foreign-born workers (the data do not distinguish between legal and illegal) bore the brunt in April:

  • Total employment fell 169,000, or 0.12%
  • Foreign-born employment fell by 344,000, or by 1.50%
  • Native-born employment rose by 175,000, or by 0.15%

Data on foreign- and native-born employment first appeared in the monthly household employment survey only a couple of years ago. (Prior to that, VDARE.com used Hispanic workers as a proxy to estimate American worker displacement.) The new data are not seasonally adjusted, so BLS compares the current month with the same month of the prior year. As a result January 2009—the month Barack Obama was inaugurated—is also the first month of readily available data for native and immigrant employment.

Coincidence or not, this allows us to track monthly job growth (and destruction) for natives and foreign-born over the course of the Obama Administration.

We do that in our New VDARE.com American Worker Displacement Index (NVDAWDI).

Obama's Legacy

The native employment growth line is black, immigrant employment growth is pink, and NVAWDI—the ratio of immigrant to native job growth—is yellow.

To calculate NVDAWDI we set both native and immigrant employment in January 2009 at 100.0. From that January to this April, a.k.a. while Obama has been in office, immigrant employment rose by 4.1%—pushing the immigrant employment index (pink line) up to 104.1. Over the same period native born employment declined by 1.0%, reducing the native employment index to 99.0. We then take the ratio of immigrant to native-born employment growth indexes and multiply by 100.

Bottom line: NVAWDI in April 2012 was at 105.2—or 100 times 104.1 divided by 99.0. Although NDAWDI declined in April, the Obama-era trend of immigrants displacing natives remained unbroken.

Resurgent American worker displacement is also confirmed by comparing the seasonally unadjusted figures for April 2012 with those of April 2011:

Employment Status by Nativity, April 2011-April 2012

(numbers in 1000s; not seasonally adjusted)

 

Apr-11

Apr-12

Change

% Change

 

Foreign born, 16 years and older

Civilian population

35,737

37,215

1,478

4.1%

Civilian labor force

23,915

24,460

545

2.3%

     Participation rate (%)

66.9%

65.7%

-1.2%

-1.8%

Employed

21,741

22,619

878

4.0%

Employment/population %

60.8%

60.8%

0.0%

0.0%

Unemployed

2,174

1,842

-332

-15.3%

     Unemployment rate (%)

9.1%

7.5%

-1.6%

-17.6%

Not in labor force

11,822

12,755

933

7.9%

 

Native born, 16 years and older

Civilian population

203,409

205,569

2,160

1.1%

Civilian labor force

129,984

129,444

-540

-0.4%

     Participation rate (%)

63.4%

63.0%

-0.4%

-0.6%

Employed

117,920

119,736

1,816

1.5%

Employment/population %

58.0%

58.1%

0.1%

0.2%

Unemployed

11,063

10,068

-995

-9.0%

     Unemployment rate (%)

8.6%

7.8%

-0.8%

-9.3%

Not in labor force

74,425

76,124

1,699

2.3%

Source: BLS, "The Employment Situation—April 2012," May 4, 2012. Table A-7.

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Over the past 12 months:

  • Immigrants gained 878,000 jobs, a 4.0% increase; native-born workers gained 1,816,000 positions, a 1.5% increase.  ADVANTAGE IMMIGRANTS
  • The unemployment rate for immigrants fell by 1.6 percentage points; the rate for natives fell by 0.8 percentage points. ADVANTAGE IMMIGRANTS
  • The immigrant labor force (people working or looking for work) increased by 2.3%; the native-born labor force declined by 0.4%. ADVANTAGE IMMIGRANTS

Overarching everything is the continued growth of the foreign-born working-age population (16 years and over.) This cohort increased by 4.1% in the past 12 months; the comparable native population increased by only 1.1%. 

Coming at a time when illegal aliens are (allegedly) leaving the country, this presumably must reflect a surge in legal immigration. Just in time for the election.

 

Edwin S. Rubenstein (email him) is President of ESR Research Economic Consultants in Indianapolis.