Immigrant workers in four key sectors: brilliant analysis

The Migration Policy Institute has released an excellent study of immigrant worker participation in four major economic sectors: “Still an Hourglass? Immigrant workers in middle-skilled jobs”. The premise of the study is that during the last decade, the number of immigrants holding middle skill jumps jumped by 50%, and that the hourglass concept (the immigrant sector divided between high skilled, such as systems engineers and physicians, and low skilled) is not longer as true as it was in the late 20th Century. I am not sure how well this study proves the premise. But is contains intriguing insights into the role of immigrants in four sectors, which I will summarize.
The study considers a worker’s income of $30,000 to be a “family sustaining wage”. That amount is 60% of the median national household income of $50,000. the argument for using the $30,000 figure is buttressed by study by others of income levels and costs of living in Los Angeles.
Between 1990 and 2006, for the econo0my as a whole, immigrant workers increased by 118%, while native workers increased by 15%. The rate of job increases by sector, immigrant vs. native worker, as for health care 132% vs.40%; information technology 189% vs. 31%; construction 291% vs. 28%; and hospitality 134% vs 33%. Between 1990 and 2006, immigrant healthcare employment grew on average at 8% vs. 3% for native workers. BLS projects 25% job growth in healthcare between 2008 and 2018.
The percentage of immigrant vs. native workers with living wages were, for the economy as a whole 46% vs. 59%; for high skilled jobs 84% vs. 83%; middle skilled jobs 60% vs 72%; and low skilled jobs, 28% vs. 36.
for each sector, the percentage of immigrant workers with family sustaining wages vs native workers was about the same except for construction (2006 figures), where 65% of native workers and 39% of immigrant workers had family sustaining wages. In the hospitality sector, both classes of workers had about 22% in family sustaining wages.
Healthcare: between 1990 and 2006, immigrant licensed practical nurses grew by 230% vs. 44% for native workers. The figures for dental assistants were 179% vs. 40%.
Information Technology: The share of immigrant IT workers to total IT workers rose from 12% in 1990 to 20% in 2006. Immigrants on the whole had better jobs.
Construction: Middle skilled job growth among immigrant workers was strong. Let’s see if that was the case after 2006. Immigrant employment in construction fell 23% between the 3rd qtr of 2007 and 2009.
Hospitality: A low skilled job sector. In 2006, 78% of immigrants and 73% of natives held low skill jobs. In 2006, only 14% of immigrants in low skilled jobs and 50% of those in middle skilled jobs earned family sustaining wages. — higher (!) than among native born workers (10% and 46% respectively).

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