American Worker Displacement Reaches Record High

Article author: 
Edwin S. Rubenstein
Article publisher: 
Article date: 
7 September 2014
Article category: 
Our American Future
Article Body: 

...August job data shows immigrant displacement of American workers has spiked unprecedentedly—to reach a level unseen since we started tracking it in 2004.

Employers added just 142,000 positions in August, the lowest rate since December. It was the first sub-200,000 gain in six months, raising new questions as to the strength and longevity of the economic recovery. [Jobs report disappoints, by M.J. Lee and Patrick Temple-West, POLITICO, September 5, 2014]

But a far bigger story springs out from the “other” job survey, of households rather than businesses. Household survey data indicates that the foreign-born share of U.S. employment was at a record—not just for August but for any month since the start of the Obama era in January 2009.

The Household Survey reports an abysmal 16,000 jobs were created last month. Behind the anemic growth figure are two enormous job shifts—a quantum rise in immigrant employment coupled with an equally large decline in native-born American employment.

In August

  • Total employment rose by 16,000, or by 0.01%
  • Native-born American employment fell by 643,000 or by 0.53%
  • Immigrant employment rose by 659,000, or by 2.76%

The gap between immigrant and native-born American job growth pushed our New American Worker Displacement Index (NVDAWDI) to a record high.

From January 2009 to August 2014:

  • Foreign-born employment rose by 2.945 million, or by 13.8%. The immigrant employment index rose from 100.0 to 113.6.
  • Native-born American employment rose by 1.202 million or by 1.0%. The native-born American employment index rose from 100.0 to 101.0.
  • NVDAWDI (the ratio of immigrant to native-born employment growth indexes) rose from 100.0 to 112.5 (100X(113.6/101.0)

The key variable for calculating American worker displacement is the foreign-born share of total U.S. employment. In February 2009 – Obama’s first full month in office – 14.9% of all individuals working in the U.S. were foreign-born, according to that month’s Household employment survey. In August of this year the immigrant share was a record 16.8%.

While the immigrant share of total employment has risen steadily, albeit erratically, since the start of the Obama years, last month’s jump is unprecedented...

Immigrant employment is growing 3 times faster than native-born American employment. That apparently is not good enough for a White House pondering, not just an Administrative Amnesty, but issuing hundreds of thousands of new green cards for high-tech workers and the relatives of U.S. citizens. [White House considers proposals to sharply increase legal immigration, by David Nakamura, Washington Post, August 27, 2014.]