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Capsule Profile of the Immigrant Worker


from a Brookings Institution study, published on March 15, 2012, authored by Audrey Singer

Immigrants now 16.4% of labor force.

In 1970, immigrants made up approximately 5% of the population and 5% of the labor force. Their growth in the labor force began to outstrip their population growth by 1990, widening the gap between the two. By 2010, immigrants were 16% of the labor force, but only 13% of the total population.

High share of job growth

In late 1990s, immigrants made up 54% of job growth. In early 2000s, that increased to 67%. In late 2000s, it fell to 42%.

Different educational attainment from native Americans

These figures are heavily skewed be source of immigrant. For instance, Hispanic immigrants are more poorly educated, while Indian immigrants are much better educated than native Americans.

Less than high school education: Immigrants, 29%; native, 7%
BA: Immigrants 19%, native, 21%
PhDs: Immigrants, 1.9%. native, 1.2%

Concentration in certain job sectors

Compared to 15.8% in the workforce, immigrants make up 23% of all workers in IT an high tech. In construction, food services, and agriculture they represent approximately one-fifth of all workers. The highest shares of immigrant workers are found in private households (49% of all workers) and in the accommodation sector (31%).

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