BLS: Unemployment Higher Among Native Born Than Immigrants

By Christopher Goins | June 15, 2012 | 4:24pm EDT

(AP Photo)

( – The unemployment rate for foreign-born workers in the United States is lower than the unemployment rate for native-born workers, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS).

The BLS’s non-seasonally adjusted data show that unemployment among foreign born workers in May 2012 was 7.4 percent, while for native-born workers it was 8.0.

See Unemployment Rate Among Foreign Born.xls

See  Unemployment Rate Among Native Born.xls

The data further show that while the working-age immigrant population in the United States has increased since Barack Obama became president in January 2009, immigrant participation in the labor force has declined.

The BLS derives its unemployment statistics from what it calls the civilian non-institutional population. This includes all people 16 years or older who are not on active duty in the military, or in a prison, a nursing home or a mental hospital.

According to BLS, in January 2009, there were 35,007,000 million foreign-born people in the civilian non-institutional population of the United States. By May 2012, that number was 37,504,000, an increase of about 2.5 million.

However, during the same time period the percentage of immigrants participating in the labor force declined. In January 2009, 67.2 percent of immigrants in the civilian non-institutional population were in the labor force. By May 2012, that had dropped to 66.3 percent.

People are considered in the labor force if they are part of the civilian non-institutional population and they either currently have a job or have actively sought a job in the last four weeks. If they do not have a job, and have not sought one in four weeks, they are not considered part of the labor force.

Today, there are about 12,625,000 foreign-born people in the civilian non-institutional population who are not in the labor force. Back in January 2009, there were about 11,466,000. That means there are approximately an additional 1,159,000 immigrants in the United States today who are not working, or trying to find work, than there were three and a half years ago, when President Obama was inaugurated.

BLS economists told that BLS's data on the foreign born population does not distinguish between people who are in the United States legally and people who are here illegally.

The BLS does not produce "seasonally adjusted" statistics for foreign born workers. While the "seasonally adjusted" national unemployment rate in May 2012 was 8.2 percent, the non-seasonally adjusted unemployment rate was 7.9 percent.

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