Monday, December 15, 2008

Labor Shortage Among Immigrant Workers?

TalkingPointsMemo points us to an interesting article by Miriam Jordan:

The economic downturn is forcing tens of thousands of Hispanic immigrants to withdraw from the U.S. labor market, according to a new study, a development that suggests the migrants are facing unprecedented competition for blue-collar jobs that may prompt them to return to their countries of origin. In the third quarter of 2008, 71.3% of Latino immigrant workers were either employed or actively seeking work compared with 72.4% in the same quarter a year earlier, according to a new study by the Pew Hispanic Center, a non-partisan research organization. The 1.1 percentage point drop "marks a substantial decrease in the labor market participation of Latino immigrants," says Rakesh Kochhar, the Pew economist who prepared the report ... During the economic boom, immigrants entered the U.S. at the rate of more than one million each year. Last year, however, the country's foreign-born population grew by just half that, or about 500,000. Latin American workers bore the brunt of the collapse of the construction sector, which employs 20% to 30% all foreign-born Hispanics. As the housing market tumbled last year, they lost jobs in ever-greater numbers

I have one small nitpick – TPMs lead was “Study: Labor Shortage Driving Immigrants Out Of the Labor Market”. Jordan was clearly describing a labor market with excess supply – not excess demand. The folks over at TPM are smart enough to know the difference so I trust they will properly adjust their lead.

The report can be found here and notes that the decline in this group’s employment-population ratio was even greater as their measured unemployment rate rose.

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