Case study of Nevada: Do immigrants take jobs from Americans?

The Las Vegas Sun talked to two immigration experts. Jeff Passel, from the Pew Hispanic Center, said the relatively high illegal worker population did not seem to have a negative impact on unemployment among citizens. Steven Camarota of the Center for Immigration Studies said that the damage is evidenced in lower workforce participation, to him a truer measure.
Per Passel, Nevada had the second-highest proportion of unauthorized workers in the nation in 2004, the state’s unemployment rate of 3.8% was one of the country’s lowest – a full point lower than the national rate of 4.8%.
( My posting here estimated the size of undocumented workforce relative to total state workforce as of March 2005. Note the high percentage for NV.)
Nearly one in 10 workers in Nevada was unauthorized in 2004, second only to Arizona, according to a recent Pew Hispanic Center report. Of the 10 states with the highest shares of illegals in the work force, seven had unemployment rates below the national average. NV’s unemployment rate of 3.8% for 2004 was a point below the national rate of 4.8%.
However, Steven Camarota says you need to look at unemployment rates just for the most impacted cohorts, such as male teenagers. In 2004 male teenagers between 16 and 19 had a 16% unemployment rate.
More importantly, one needs to look at the drop in labor force participation. In 2000, 55.1% of Nevadans between 16 and 19 were either employed or looking for work. By 2004, that number slipped to 45.8%. Among people age 20 to 24, the participation rate dropped from 81.3% to 77%. The number of blacks participating in the state’s work force fell from 71.1% to 64.9%.

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