National Data | The Jobs Report Is Getting “Weird,” But January Looks Like A Cold Employment Market For Both Immigrants And Americans

Was it the weather? The economy? The statistics themselves?

Depending on which numbers you look. at the January Jobs Report was either very disappointing, really fantastic—and/or just weird, a possibility we can dare acknowledge because a card-carrying Main Stream Media Big Foot, Derek Thompson [Twitter] of  The Atlantic, has been also been saying it recently [7 Fascinating Nuggets From Another Bewildering Jobs Report |The first Friday of each month just keeps getting weirder, February 7, 2014].

Each month the Bureau of Labor Statistics asks businesses how many people are on their payrolls, and then asks ordinary folks how many people in their household were working.

The Household Survey invariably reports higher total employment than the Payroll Survey, a result attributable in part to the reluctance of employers to acknowledge illegal alien  workers.

Over time, the two reports have tended move in tandem. But not this January.

The Employer survey was widely viewed as disappointing, with only 113,000 jobs created. [Payroll Data Shows a Lag in Wages, Not Just Hiring, By Nelson D. Schwartz, NYT, February 7, 2014] After December’s pathetic job figure (75,000) most economists were expecting a rebound closer to 200,000. But, be it weather or a weaker economy, the Employer survey reports slow job growth.

By contrast, the Household survey was quite strong. Employment was up by an amazing 638,000, the labor force increased by 523,000, and the unemployment rate fell to 6.6%. The labor force participation rose, albeit from the lowest level in the past 35 years.

As usual, only VDARE.com looks at the immigrant impact on the job data. About 90,000 immigrants enter the US labor force each month, often exceeding job creation. But this fact has still not entered the MSM employment-story template.

What we find in January is a deviation from the long-run trend: the immigrant share of household employment fell in January for the fourth consecutive month. More importantly, the number of immigrants holding jobs fell significantly:

In January:

  • Total  employment rose by 638,000, or by 0.44%
  • Native-born American employment rose by 707,000 or by 0.59%
  • Foreign-born employment fell by 69,000, or by 0.29%

Possibly January’s anomaly reflects the concentration of immigrants in construction, landscaping, and other occupations sensitive to weather.

Certainly it does not yet threaten the major trend: the chief legacy of Barack Obama seems likely to be the displacement of native-born Americans by immigrants.

This January marked the fifth year of the Obama era. The tilt against native-born American workers during this period is made clear in our New VDARE.com American Worker Displacement Index (NVDAWDI):

National Data | The Jobs Report Is Getting “Weird,” But January Looks Like A Cold Employment Market For Both Immigrants And Amer

Native-born American employment growth is the blue line, immigrant employment growth is in pink, and NVAWDI—the ratio of immigrant to native-born American job growth—is in yellow. The graphic starts at 100.0 for both native-born and immigrant employment in January 2009, and tracks their growth since then.

From January 2009 to January 2014:

  • Foreign-born employment rose by 2.098 million, or by 9.69%. The immigrant employment index rose from 100.0 to 109.7
  • Native-born employment rose by 905,000 or by 0.75%. The native-born employment index in December 2013 was 100.8, or less than 1 percent above the level of January 2009.
  • NVDAWDI (the ratio of immigrant to native-born employment growth indexes) rose from 100.0 to 108.9 (100X(109.7/100.8)

A more detailed picture of American worker displacement, January 2013 to January 2014, is seen in seasonally unadjusted data published in the BLS monthly job report:

Employment Status by Nativity, Jan. 2013-Jan. 2014

(numbers in 1000s; not seasonally adjusted)

 

Jan-13

Jan-14

Change

% Change

Foreign born, 16 years and older

Civilian population

37,952

38,165

213

0.6%

Civilian labor force

25,240

25,139

-101

-0.4%

     Participation rate (%)

66.5%

65.9%

-0.6%

-0.9%

Employed

23,089

23,467

378

1.6%

Employment/population %

60.8%

61.5%

0.7%

1.2%

Unemployed

2,150

1,673

-477

-22.2%

Unemployment rate (%)

8.5%

6.7%

-1.8%

-21.2%

Not in labor force

12,712

13,026

314

2.5%

 

Native born, 16 years and older

Civilian population

206,711

208,749

2,038

1.0%

Civilian labor force

129,555

129,241

-314

-0.2%

     Participation rate (%)

62.7%

61.9%

-0.8%

-1.3%

Employed

118,524

120,059

1,535

1.3%

Employment/population %

57.3%

57.5%

0.2%

0.3%

Unemployed

11,030

9,182

-1,848

-16.8%

Unemployment rate (%)

8.5%

7.1%

-1.4%

-16.5%

Not in labor force

77,156

79,508

2,352

3.0%

Source: BLS, The Employment Situation - January 2014, Table A-7, February 7, 2014.

http://www.bls.gov/news.release/pdf/empsit.pdf

 

Over these 12 months:

  • Immigrants gained 378,000 jobs, a 1.6% increase; native-born American workers gained 1,535,000 positions, a 1.3% increase. ADVANTAGE IMMIGRANTS
  • The unemployment rate for immigrants fell by 1.8 percentage points – or by 21.2%; the native-born American unemployment rate fell by 1.4 percentage points – a 16.5% decline. ADVANTAGE IMMIGRANTS
  • The labor force participation rate – a measure of worker confidence – declined for both native-born Americans and immigrants. In percentage terms, however, the native-born American rate fell more than the immigrant rate. ADVANTAGE IMMIGRANTS
  • The number of immigrants “not in the labor force” – i.e., neither working nor looking for work, rose by 314,000, or by 2.5%; the number native-born not in the labor force rose by 2.352 million, or by 3.0%. ADVANTAGE IMMIGRANTS

Perhaps significantly, Hispanic employment significantly outpaced non-Hispanic employment in January. (I’ll be posting a more detailed column about the racial distribution of employment soon.) Because so many Hispanics are immigrants, we used their employment rates as a proxy for immigrant employment, until the Federal government decided to make the immigrant data available in January 2010. Maybe we should start doing so again.

The Atlantic’s Derek Thompson has complained specifically about January’s dramatic 0.6 percentage-point drop in unemployment among high school graduates (which he describes as “unbelievable. As in, literally, not something to be believed, on its face”) and, the previous month, about a dramatic drop in labor force participation rates.

I can suggest another anomaly: By far the most eye-popping figures in the January table are the civilian population data (line 1.) Taken at face value, they show the native-born American population growing by 1.0% over the past year, and foreign-born population expanding by just 0.6%.

Not once in the 60 months that this table has appeared in the monthly job report has native-born American population growth exceeded foreign-born population growth.

This makes the January 2014 data all the more problematic.

Thompson said in commenting on the December data: “The upshot of this jobs report, and every jobs report, is that one data point shouldn't overshadow the long-term trends.”

Quite right. And the long-term under Obama is that immigrants are relentlessly displacing Americans.

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