National Data |October Jobs: Unemployment Up, Immigrants Beating Out Americans…As They Have Throughout Obama Years

The last pre-election employment report showed an uptick in the unemployment rate—to 7.9% from 7.8%. America’s employers did add 171,000 positions in October, but the labor force grew faster.

The real news: this month, as throughout the Obama Administration, immigrant job growth outpaced job growth among native-born Americans.

This displacement issue finally made it into Drudge via the Washington Times yesterday—but it’s utterly absent from the Presidential campaign. Mitt Romney has thrown the issue away by going the full Chamber of Commerce on skilled immigration.

The white unemployment rate was unchanged, at 7.0%. Hispanic unemployment rose slightly, to 10.0% from 9.9%. Black unemployment rocketed to 14.3% in October from 13.4% in September. This pattern is consistent with the displacement of minority workers by low skilled immigrants—perhaps the biggest story never told during this election cycle.

Legal immigration is running at about 90,000 per month, so more than half of October’s payroll employment growth may have been required just to absorb new arrivals. The total labor force rose by 578,000 last month, fueled mainly by an increase in job hunters among people who had been too discouraged to look for work the prior month.

The “other” employment survey, of households rather than employers, found 410,000 more people working in October than in September. Our analysis shows immigrants gained jobs at twice the rate of native-born Americans. In October:

  • Total employment rose by 410,000, or by 0.29%
  • Native-born employment rose by 271,000, or by 0.23%
  • Foreign-born employment rose by 139,000, or by 0.60%

Overall, the Obama years have been disastrous for native-born workers. The deterioration in native-born employment in both absolute terms and, more dramatically, relative to foreign-born employment, is highlighted in the New VDARE.com American Worker Displacement Index (NVDAWDI):

October 2012 VDAWDI 

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

             From January 2009 to October 2012:

  • Foreign-born employment rose 1.635 million, or by 7.6%
  • Native-born employment fell by 0.472 million, or by 0.4%

Since Obama took office native-born job losses are nearly one-third the immigrant job gains. Put differently, during the Obama era one native-born worker has been displaced per every three foreign-born workers added to the U.S. workforce.

(A recent CIS report [Who Got Jobs During the Obama Presidency? Native and Immigrant Employment Growth, 2009 to 2012, By Steven A. Camarota, Karen Zeigler, November 2012] covers the same general topic, but reports that both natives and immigrants gained jobs during the Obama years.

The difference reflects CIS’s use of quarterly rather than monthly employment figures. In the first quarter of 2009 unemployment was rising rapidly: 1.4 million fewer people were working in March than in January. Obama may have inherited a labor market that was in free fall, but January 2009 is still the logical place from which to measure his Administration’s job performance.)

To calculate NVDAWDI we set both the native-born and immigrant employment indexes for January 2009 at 100.0. By October 2012 the immigrant employment index stood at 107.6 while the index of native employment declined to 99.6. The ratio of immigrant to native-born job growth indices - NVDAWDI - was 108.0 (100 times 107.6 divided by 99.6.)

As measured by NVDAWDI, Obama-era job displacement rose to 108.0 in October from 107.6 in September. It was the second highest NVDAWDI on record—exceeded only by January 2012’s 108.4.

Increases in American worker displacement over the past 12 months are evident in other data in the latest employment report:

 

Employment Status by Nativity, Oct. 2011-Oct. 2012

(numbers in 1000s; not seasonally adjusted) 

 

Oct-11

Oct-12

Change

% Change

Foreign born, 16 years and older

Civilian population

37,001

38,288

1,287

3.5%

Civilian labor force

24,849

25,268

419

1.7%

     Participation rate (%)

67.2%

66.0%

-1.2%

-1.8%

Employed

22,648

23,388

740

3.3%

Employment/population %

61.2%

61.1%

-0.1%

-0.2%

Unemployed

2,201

1,880

-321

-14.6%

     Unemployment rate (%)

8.9%

7.4%

-1.5%

-16.9%

Not in labor force

12,152

13,020

868

7.1%

 

Native born, 16 years and older

Civilian population

203,288

205,695

2,407

1.2%

Civilian labor force

129,239

130,511

1,272

1.0%

     Participation rate (%)

63.6%

63.4%

-0.2%

-0.3%

Employed

118,338

120,651

2,313

2.0%

Employment/population %

58.2%

58.7%

0.5%

0.9%

Unemployed

10,901

9,860

-1,041

-9.5%

     Unemployment rate (%)

8.4%

7.6%

-0.8%

-9.5%

Not in labor force

74,029

75,184

1,155

1.6%

Source: BLS, "The Employment Situation - October 2012," November 2, 2012. Table A-7. PDF

Since last October:

  • Immigrants gained 740,000 jobs, a 3.3% increase; native-born workers gained 2,313,000 positions, a 2.0% increase.  ADVANTAGE IMMIGRANTS
  • The unemployment rate for immigrants fell by 1.5 percentage points—a 16.9% decline; the rate for natives fell by 0.8 percentage points—a 9.5% decline. ADVANTAGE IMMIGRANTS
  • The labor force participation rate—a measure of worker confidence—fell for both immigrants and natives—with immigrants suffering a larger decline. However, the immigrant participation rate remains well above the native rate. ADVANTAGE IMMIGRANTS
  • The foreign-born population of working age rose 3.5%; the corresponding native-born population rose by 1.2% ADVANTAGE IMMIGRANTS

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