Supporters of the Schumer-Rubio amnesty argue that the bill’s large increase in future legal immigration will have little impact on the employment of natives because immigrants do only jobs American’s don’t want. But a detailed analysis of 472 separate occupations by the Center for Immigration Studies shows there are only a tiny number of majority-immigrant occupations (legal and illegal immigrants combined). Thus, there are really no jobs that Americans won’t do. Further, the Center found no occupations in which a majority of workers are illegal immigrants.
Co-author Steven Camarota, the Center’s Director of Research, notes, “When more educated and affluent Americans argue that immigrants only do jobs Americans don’t want, what they often mean is immigrants do jobs that they personally don’t want. They forget the millions of their fellow Americans who do precisely these same jobs.”
The millions of native-born Americans and legal immigrants already in the United States who work at low-paying and difficult jobs unfortunately do not seem to be represented in the legislation, which calls for a massive increase in immigration. The Schumer-Rubio bill creates a new guestworker program for less-skilled immigrants, it increases family immigration for a number of years, a large share of which is less-skilled, and creates new categories to admit additional less-educated workers.
The complete report can be viewed. Among the findings:
Of the 472 civilian occupations, only six are majority immigrant (legal and illegal). These six occupations account for 1 percent of the total U.S. workforce. Moreover, native-born Americans still comprise 46 percent of workers even in these occupations.
Many jobs often thought to be overwhelmingly immigrant (legal and illegal) are in fact majority native-born:
- Maids and housekeepers: 51 percent native-born
- Taxi drivers and chauffeurs: 58 percent native-born
- Butchers and meat processors: 63 percent native-born
- Grounds maintenance workers: 64 percent native-born
- Construction laborers: 66 percent native-born
- Porters, bellhops, and concierges: 72 percent native-born
- Janitors: 73 percent native-born
There are 67 occupations in which 25 percent or more of workers are immigrants (legal and illegal). In these high-immigrant occupations, there are still 16.5 million natives — accounting for one out of eight natives in the labor force.
High-immigrant occupations (25 percent or more immigrant) are primarily, but not exclusively, lower-wage jobs that require relatively little formal education.
In high-immigrant occupations, 59 percent of the natives have no education beyond high school, compared to 31 percent of the rest of the labor force.
Natives tend to have high unemployment in high-immigrant occupations, averaging 14 percent during the 2009-2011 period, compared to 8 percent in the rest of the labor market. There were a total of 2.6 million unemployed native-born Americans in high-immigrant occupations.
Some may think that native-born workers in high-immigrant occupations are mostly older, with few young natives willing to do such work. But 34 percent of natives in these occupations are age 30 or younger, compared to 27 percent of natives in the rest of labor force.
It is worth remembering that not all high-immigrant occupations are lower skilled. For example, 36 percent of software engineers are immigrants, as are 27 percent of physicians.
A number of politically important groups tend to face very little job competition from immigrants (legal and illegal). For example, just 10 percent of reporters are immigrants, as are only 6 percent of lawyers and judges and 6 percent of farmers and ranchers.
We find that there are no occupations in the United States in which a majority of workers are illegal immigrants.
Illegal immigrants work mostly in construction, cleaning, maintenance, food service, garment manufacturing, and agricultural occupations. However, the overwhelming majority of workers even in these areas are native-born or legal immigrants.
Although illegal immigrants comprise a large share of workers in agriculture, farm workers are only a tiny share of the total labor force. Consistent with other research, just 5 percent of all illegal immigrants work in agriculture.
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