December 19, 2014

The Diversity Explosion

The white population in the United States is about to start an irreversible decline in size. A newly published book, The Diversity Explosion, by William Frey, describes the massive demographic shifts that have been taking place, in large measure due to immigration but also due to the tripling of interracial marriages since 1990. Frey places immigrants within the context of the entire American population.

Her says, “I am convinced that the United States is in the midst of a pivotal period ushering in extraordinary shifts in the nation’s racial demographic makeup.

Quoting from his introductory chapter:

What will be different going forward is the sheer size of the minority population in the United States. It is arriving “just in time” as the aging white population begins to decline, bringing with it needed manpower and brain power and taking up residence in otherwise stagnating city and suburban housing markets.

…….a growing diverse, globally connected minority population will be absolutely necessary to infuse the aging American labor force with vitality and to sustain populations in many parts of the country that are facing population declines.

1. the rapid growth of “new minorities”: Hispanics, Asians, and increasingly multiracial populations. During the next 40 years, each of these groups is expected to more than double (see figure 1-2). New minorities have already become the major contributors to U.S. population gains. These new minorities—the products of recent immigration waves as well as the growing U.S.–born generations—contributed to more than three-quarters of the nation’s population growth in the last decade. That trend will accelerate in the future.

2. the sharply diminished growth and rapid aging of America’s white population. Due to white low immigration, reduced fertility, and aging, the white population grew a tepid 1.2 percent in 2000–10. In roughly 10 years, the white population will begin a decline that will continue into the future. This decline will be most prominent among
the younger populations. At the same time, the existing white population will age rapidly, as the large baby boom generation advances into seniorhood.

3. black economic advances and migration reversals. Now, more than a half-century after the civil rights movement began, a recognizable segment of blacks has entered the middle class while simultaneously reversing historic population shifts. The long-standing Great Migration of blacks out of the South has now turned into a wholesale evacuation from the North—to largely prosperous southern locales. Blacks are abandoning cities for the suburbs, and black neighborhood segregation continues to decline. Although many blacks still suffer the effects of inequality and segregation is far from gone, the economic and residential environments for blacks have improved well beyond the highly discriminatory, ghettoized life that most experienced for
much of the twentieth century

December 10, 2014

In your state, how many undocumented immigrants?

Where do they come from? Age, length of time in the U.S., marital status, formal education, work status, income level, etc -- these and more are estimated. Drawn from data collected 2008 - 2012.

Go here for the report from the Migration Policy Institute.

December 5, 2014

Notable facts about undocumented immigrants

The website 538 draws figures from the Pew Research and the Migration Research Institute to note some important facts about undocumented immigrants:

Reasons for fall-off in undocumented immigrants:

Pew estimates there were 11.3 million unauthorized immigrants in the United States in 2013. That figure has been pretty much flat for the past five years, and is down from a peak of 12.2 million in 2007. In other words, more unauthorized immigrants have left the country in the past six years — voluntarily or through deportation — than have arrived.

The slowdown in illegal immigration is partly the result of the weak U.S. economy, and especially the weak home construction industry, which was a major source of jobs for many migrants. But the flow across the Mexican border, in particular, began to slow before the recession, the result of tighter border security and a falling birthrate in Mexico, which meant there were fewer young Mexicans seeking jobs in the United States.

Half or more undocumented immigrants arrived legally, then overstayed:

Most of those Asian immigrants, and many Latin American immigrants as well, likely entered the country legally on tourist, student or other visas. A 2006 Pew study found that 40 percent to 50 percent of unauthorized immigrants entered the country legally and never left, as opposed to crossing the border illegally.

Most have been here for 13 or more years:

The typical unauthorized immigrant has been here for nearly 13 years, up from about 9 years in 2007. Only 16 percent have been here under five years — an important cutoff because Obama’s plan doesn’t apply to anyone who’s been here for less time than that.

65% are working.

A majority are poor:

A majority of unauthorized immigrants are struggling financially. Nearly a third live in poverty, and nearly two-thirds earn less than twice the federal poverty line. Two-thirds lack health insurance, and less than a third own their own homes.

May 5, 2014

California’s undocumented immigrants use fewer health services

From the UCLA Center for Health Policy Research: undocumented immigrants in California see the doctor and visit emergency rooms significantly less often than U.S. citizens and documented immigrants.

One in five U.S.-born adults visits the ER annually, compared with roughly one in 10 undocumented adults — approximately half the rate of U.S.-born residents.

"The great majority of undocumented in California are working-age adults who contribute greatly to California's economy by working in physically demanding service, agriculture and construction jobs," project director Nadereh Pourat said. "It makes financial sense to make sure they have affordable health coverage options so they can stay healthy."

"The undocumented who end up in the emergency room have often delayed getting any care until they are critically sick."

The study also found that undocumented immigrants' average number of doctor visits per year was lower: 2.3 for children and 1.3 for adults, compared with 2.8 doctor visits for U.S.-born children and 3.2 for adults.

Nine percent of uninsured undocumented immigrants had visited the ER, significantly lower than the 12 percent of uninsured U.S.-born residents, who had the highest ER use of all groups.

In 2009, California was home to more than 2.2 million undocumented immigrants, the study found. And while these immigrants make up 6.8 percent of California's residents, they represent nearly a quarter of the state's uninsured population.

The undocumented don't get preventive care, potentially leading to more advanced disease and higher public expenditures.

The 2010 Affordable Care Act extended access to health coverage to about 3.3 million people in the state but not to California's more than 2.2 million undocumented immigrants, the study notes.

March 22, 2014

Health coverage and health literary among adult Hispanics

The news is not good about health insurance coverage and health literacy among adult Hispanics. I have excerpted below from survey results and an overview article in Health Affairs. These findings cast a shadow over the Affordable Care Act and workers’ compensation (in which about a substantial share of injured workers have non-occupational health conditions that need attention to achieve a resolution of the injury).

Low enrollments in health insurance

Thirty-six percent of Hispanic adults reported being uninsured in late 2013, confirming that they are much more likely to lack coverage than other racial or ethnic groups. This rate is triple the rate of uninsurance among whites (12%) and a third higher than blacks and non-white Hispanics (27%) (these figures from the Urban Institute’s report noted below).

Despite the ACA’s coverage expansions, over half of the uninsured Hispanic population (55 percent) reported that they expect to remain uninsured in 2014. (These expectations are not likely due to the immigration status of Hispanics and its effect on eligibility, because uninsured white non-Hispanic and non-white non-Hispanic adults have similar expectations about coverage.)

Health illiteracy

Overall, the gap in understanding health insurance concepts between nonwhite and Hispanic adults and those who are non-Hispanic white is almost 20 percentage points, with just 27.8 percent of nonwhite or Hispanic respondents saying they feel confident that they understand all nine terms. For each of the nine terms asked about, no more than 60.2 percent of nonwhite or Hispanic adults were either very or somewhat confident in their understanding of it.


Health Affairs, Why Are Hispanics Slow To Enroll In ACA Coverage? March 18 2014 (subscription required.

The Urban Institute’s Health Reform Monitoring Survey January 21, 2014, What Health Insurance Coverage Changes Are the Uninsured Anticipating for 2014?

The Urban Institute, Public Understanding of Basic Health Insurance Concepts on the Eve of Health Reform (late 2013)

January 2, 2014

More on Pro Publica’s temp worker report: higher injury risk

Pro Publica also reported on the higher injury risk of temporary workers, as follows:

A ProPublica analysis of millions of workers’ compensation claims shows that in five states, representing more than a fifth of the U.S. population, temps face a significantly greater risk of getting injured on the job than permanent employees.

In California and Florida, two of the largest states, temps had about 50 percent greater risk of being injured on the job than non-temps. That risk was 36 percent higher in Massachusetts, 66 percent in Oregon and 72 percent in Minnesota.

These statistics understate the dangers faced by blue-collar temps like Davis. Nationwide, temps are far more likely to find jobs in dangerous occupations like manufacturing and warehousing. And their likelihood of injury grows dramatically.

In Florida, for example, temps in blue-collar workplaces were about six times as likely to be injured than permanent employees doing similar jobs.

The findings were particularly stark for severe injuries. In Florida, the data shows, temps were about twice as likely as regular employees to suffer crushing injuries, dislocations, lacerations, fractures and punctures. They were about three times as likely to suffer an amputation on the job in Florida and the three other states for which such records are available.

ProPublica interviewed more than 100 temp workers across the nation and reviewed more than 50 Occupational Safety and Health Administration investigations involving temp worker accidents.

The interviews and OSHA files revealed situations that occur over and over again: untrained laborers asphyxiated while cleaning the inside of chemical tanks, caught in heavy machinery such as food grinders and tire shredders, and afflicted by heat stroke after a long day on a garbage truck or roof.

The lightly regulated blue-collar temp world is one where workers are often sent to do dangerous jobs with little or no training. Where the company overseeing the work isn’t required to pay the medical bills if temps get hurt. And where, when temp workers do get injured on the job, the temp firm and the company fight with each other over who is responsible, sometimes even delaying emergency medical care while they sort it out.

Pro Publica’s investigation of temporary labor: Raiteros

Pro Publica took aim during 2013 at the low wage temp industry. It reported that “Across America, temporary work has become a mainstay of the economy, leading to the proliferation of what researchers have begun to call “temp towns.” They are often dense Latino neighborhoods teeming with temp agencies. Or they are cities where it has become nearly impossible even for whites and African-Americans with vocational training to find factory and warehouse work without first being directed to a temp firm.

“In June, the Labor Department reported that the nation had more temp workers than ever before: 2.7 million. Overall, almost one-fifth of the total job growth since the recession ended in mid-2009 has been in the temp sector, federal data shows.”

It investigated labor brokers (raiteros) in Chicago:

Immigrant labor brokers known as raiteros have helped create a system where temp agencies and their corporate clients benefit from cheap, just-in-time labor. Raiteros don’t just drive workers to their jobs. They also recruit the workers, decide who works and doesn't and distribute paychecks, making them unofficial agents of the temp firms.

But the temp agencies don’t pay the raiteros. [A state law forbad that practice years ago.] Instead, it’s the low-wage workers who pay them, ostensibly for transportation. Those fees, together with unpaid waiting times, depress workers' pay well below the minimum wage.

Continue reading "Pro Publica’s investigation of temporary labor: Raiteros" »

November 27, 2013

We need joint workforce planning with Mexico

RAND just came out with a nuanced analysis of how the American and Mexican labor markets are so intertwined that we need to set up mechanisms for joint planning for migrant workers throughout their entire labor life cycle. The dimensions of the issue include migration, job security, and retirement benefits.

There are some great images including a map of the origin of Mexican migrants to the U.S.

Its study smashes some myths, as here:

The stereotypical perception of Mexican immigrants is that they come from the lowest rungs of Mexican society. In fact, Mexican immigrants in the United States are more likely to have completed eight to nine years of education than those remaining in Mexico, and less likely to have completed either fewer years of education or college. In other words, the least educated and the most educated are less likely to migrate to the United States.

RAND concludes:

A binational organization that promotes a better understanding of migration flows coupled with a bilateral social security agreement for legal migrant workers would serve as cornerstones for building solid immigration and labor policies that could benefit both the U.S. and Mexican populations. These two initiatives could also inaugurate a longer-term collaboration between the two countries that, as geographic neighbors, must jointly find solutions to promote the well-being of their people

November 14, 2013

Extraordinary visual of international migration

Go the this page of the website of the International Organization for Migration. You will see a map of the world.

After choosing either “inward” or “outward”, select a country. The United States data is pretty dense, so first select a small country, such as Ghana. You will then learn there are 110,000 Ghanaians in the U.S., 23,000 in Canada and 186,000 in Nigeria.

How the IOM describes its mission:

IOM is committed to the principle that humane and orderly migration benefits migrants and society. As the leading international organization for migration, IOM acts with its partners in the international community to:

Assist in meeting the growing operational challenges of migration management.
Advance understanding of migration issues.
Encourage social and economic development through migration.
Uphold the human dignity and well-being of migrants.

Extraordinary visual of international migration

Go the this page of the website of the International Organization for Migration. You will see a map of the world.

After choosing either “inward” or “outward”, select a country. The United States data is pretty dense, so first select a small country, such as Ghana. You will then learn there are 110,000 Ghanaians in the U.S., 23,000 in Canada and 186,000 in Nigeria.

How the IOM describes its mission:

IOM is committed to the principle that humane and orderly migration benefits migrants and society. As the leading international organization for migration, IOM acts with its partners in the international community to:

Assist in meeting the growing operational challenges of migration management.
Advance understanding of migration issues.
Encourage social and economic development through migration.
Uphold the human dignity and well-being of migrants.

September 5, 2013

Ethnic networks in Southern California

Although California’s foreign born population has stopped growing much faster relative to its native born population, is it is undeniably America's multi-cultural hotbed. Some demographers predicted that the 2010 census would report a lower foreign-born share for California than the 2000 census. This proved to be wrong. The 2000 share was 26.2%. The 2011 share was 27%. Go here for a rich array of statistics about the state’s foreign born population.

Joel Kotkin recently wrote this brief profile of Southern California:

Immigration has slowed in recent years but the decades-long surge of migration, largely from Asia and Mexico, has transformed the area into one of the most diverse in the world. More to the point, Southern California has what one can call diversity in depth, that is, huge concentrations of key immigrant populations – Korean, Chinese, Mexican, Salvadoran, Filipino, Israeli, Russian – that are as large or larger than anywhere outside the respective homelands. Foreigners also account for many of our richest people, with five of 11 of L.A.'s wealthiest being born abroad.

These networks are critical in a place lacking a strong corporate presence. Our international connections come largely as the result of both the ethnic communities as well as our status as the largest port center in North America, which creates a market for everything from assembly of foreign-made parts to trade finance and real estate investment. Southern California may be a bit of a desert when it comes to big money-center banks, but it's home to scores of ethnic banks, mainly Korean and Chinese, but also those serving Israeli, Armenian and other groups.

For the immigrants, what appeals about Southern California is that we offer a diverse, and dispersed, array of single-family neighborhoods. Both national and local data finds immigrants increasingly flocking to suburbs. Places like the San Gabriel Valley's 626 area, Cerritos, Westminster, Garden Grove, Fullerton and, more recently, Irvine, have expanded the region's geography of ethnic enclaves.

These enclaves drive whole economies, such as Mexicans in the wholesale produce industry or the development of electronics assembly and other trade-related industry by migrants largely from Taiwan. Global ties are critical here. Korean-Americans started largely in ethnic middleman businesses, but have been moving upscale, as their children acquire education. They, in turn, have helped attract investment from South Korea's rising global corporations, including a new $200 million headquarters for Hyundai in Fountain Valley, as well as a $1 billion, 73-story new tower being built by Korean Air in downtown Los Angeles.

February 8, 2013

New facts about unauthorized immigrants

A report, The Number of Unauthorized Immigrants and their Characteristics, was published on January 29 by the Pew Hispanic Center. Here are some important facts about unauthorized immigrants. Three stand out:

Item: Been here a long time. In 2010, nearly two-thirds of unauthorized immigrants had lived in the U.S. for at least a decade.

Item: Many mixed marriages with one citizen adult. Mine million people lived in “mixed-status” families in 2010.

Item: Children of unauthorized immigrants are mostly born here and are U.S. citizens. Nearly half of unauthorized immigrant households (47%) consist of a couple with children. Most children of unauthorized immigrants—73% in 2008—are U.S. citizens by birth. I have seen them estimated elsewhere as 3.2 million children.

Other details:

The Pew Hispanic Center has published a number of reports on the size and characteristics of the nation’s unauthorized immigrant population. The Center’s latest estimate of the number of U.S. unauthorized immigrants was 11.1 million in 2011, a number that did not significantly change from the previous two years (Passel and Cohn, 2012). Other findings from the Center, based on a number of data sources, include:

Trends in unauthorized immigration: The most recent Pew Hispanic Center estimate is that 11.1 million unauthorized immigrants lived in the U.S. in 2011. Unauthorized immigration peaked at 12.0 million in 2007, and fell since then mainly because of less immigration from Mexico, the largest source of U.S. immigration (Passel and Cohn, 2012). In 2010, unauthorized immigrants from Mexico made up 58% of all unauthorized immigrants (Passel and Cohn, 2011).
Unauthorized immigration and children: In 2010, there were 1 million unauthorized immigrants under age 18 in the U.S., as well as 4.5 million U.S.-born children whose parents were unauthorized. These details are included in a report based on 2010 data that also estimates births to unauthorized immigrants; region of origin for unauthorized immigrants; state populations of unauthorized immigrants and unauthorized workers; and overall labor force participation (Passel and Cohn, 2011).

Characteristics of unauthorized immigrants: In 2010, nearly two-thirds of unauthorized immigrants had lived in the U.S. for at least a decade and nearly half (46%) were parents of minor children. This Census Bureau data-based report also includes data comparing the length of U.S. residence for unauthorized immigrants in 2000, 2005 and 2010. It estimates that 9 million people lived in “mixed-status” families (Taylor et al. , 2011).

Migration from Mexico: Immigration from Mexico has declined since 2007, largely because of the first decrease in unauthorized immigration in at least two decades. This report includes Mexican data about the characteristics, experience and future intentions of Mexican migrants handed over to Mexican authorities by U.S. law enforcement agencies; and U.S. data on border enforcement as well as characteristics of Mexican-born immigrants in the U.S. (Passel, Cohn and Gonzalez-Barrera, 2012).

Unauthorized immigrant worker characteristics: Unauthorized immigrants make up 25% of farm workers (not including temporary workers), according to 2008 data in a Pew Hispanic Center report that also includes estimates of unauthorized immigrant shares of other occupations and industries. This report includes details on school enrollment by unauthorized immigrant children and by U.S.-born children of unauthorized immigrants; and estimates of educational attainment, income, poverty rates and health insurance status of unauthorized immigrants (Passel and Cohn, 2009).

January 31, 2013

Five things economists know about immigration

Dylan Matthews of Wongblog at the Washington Post posted this column on January 29:

Few areas of economics have provoked as much fruitful research as immigration, and while disagreements remain, there are at least a few things we can glean from that literature. Here are just a few of them.

1. It’s really good for immigrants

File this one under “duh,” but immigration is a great deal for immigrants, and an even better one than it was during previous eras of mass immigration. Lant Pritchett, a professor at the Harvard Kennedy School and author of Let Their People Come, a great book on the economics of immigration, produced this graph comparing wage gaps between immigrants’ destinations and countries of origins in the 19th century to those gaps in more modern times.

In the 1870s, workers in Ireland could double their wages by coming to the United States. In the 1990s, workers in Guatemala could raise their wages sixfold by coming to the Unted States. In another study, the University of Wisconsin’s John Keenan estimated that completely opening the borders would increase the average developing country worker’s salary from $8,903 to $19,272 — more than double.

2. It’s very good for the economy as a whole

Economists have tried to put a dollar figure on how much the world economy would grow if we just removed all immigration restrictions overnight. The answer: a lot. Angel Aguiar and Terrie Walmsley modeled the effects of three U.S. policy alternatives — full deportation of Mexican immigrants, full legalization and full legalization with increased border control — and found, unsurprisingly, that full deportation reduces gross domestic product and the others would add. Deportation reduces GDP by 0.61 percent, legalization with border control increases it by 0.17 percent and legalization without border control increases it by 0.53 percent.

Pritchett, meanwhile, compared what open borders would do to world GDP, compared to completely free movement of capital and completely free trade with developing countries. It’s not even close. Open borders increase world GDP by $65 trillion. Let me repeat that. $65 trillion — with a ‘t’. The others don’t even come close.

3. It increases innovation

Businessweek’s Charles Kenny, who’s also a fellow at the Center for Global Development, highlighted a slew of studies suggesting that high-skilled immigration is key to innovation in America. Foreign nationals living in the United States accounted for 25.6 percent of all patent applications and founded 26 percent of start-ups, including a majority of Silicon Valley start-ups. In addition, an increase in immigrants with higher education diplomas is associated with an increase in patenting. Charles Lin at Rutgers found that an expansion of high-skilled visas passed in 1998 increased revenue at affected companies by 15 percent.

4. The typical native-born worker probably benefits

There’s a lot of debate on this one. A 2010 white paper by Gianmarco Ottaviano, Giovanni Peri and Greg Wright found that less expensive immigrant labor has a “positive net effect on native employment.” In another paper, Peri found that U.S. immigration from 1990 to 2006 increased real wages by 2.86 percent. Put together, Peri’s research forms the strongest basis for arguing that immigration increases wages for native-born American workers. Patricia Cortes at Unviersity of Chicago has confirmed his findings, Heidi Sheirholz at EPI and Raúl Hinojosa-Ojeda at the Center for American Progress, similarly, have found across-the-board gains from immigration (or, in the latter case, comprehensive immigration reform) to wages.

George Borjas and Lawrence Katz, two Harvard labor economists who tend to be more skeptical of the benefits from immigration, beg to differ. Between 1980 and 2000, U.S. workers saw their wages fall in the short-run by 3.4 percent due to immigration. In the long-run, the economy adjusts such that the overall effect is minimal, but the short term figures are still a cause for concern.

Unsurprisingly, Peri and Ottaviano dispute Borjas and Katz’s methodology. They argue that Borjas and Katz inaccurately assume that U.S. and foreign workers are perfect substitutes. That’s a problematic assumption, since immigrants tend to do a different kind of labor, one which might not even exist in their absence. “[Immigration opponents] say ‘we Americans could do the job!’ but they don’t say ‘we’ll do the job at a significantly higher price at which the job wouldn’t exist,’” said Jagdish Bhagwati, a trade and immigration economist at Columbia and the Council on Foreign Relations. Borjas and Katz also neglect the indirect benefits that immigration provides to all groups through increasing growth.

But even taking Borjas and Katz at face value, the two groups’ estimates aren’t that far off from each other when you look at the long-run, as this chart from Michael Greenstone and Adam Looney at the Hamilton Project shows.

Everyone agrees that high school grads and people with some college benefit in the long run and despite their short-run estimates, even Borjas and Katz show a mildly positive overall effect in the long run. The dispute is about what happens at the low-end.

5. Low-skilled immigrants probably don’t see any effect

That’s what Peri’s findings say above, and they’re confirmed in two notable studies, by David Card and Rachel Friedberg, which found that the Mariel boatlift (which brought upwards of 100,000 immigrants to Miami in 1980) and the early 1990s Russian Jewish migration to Israel, respectively, did not decrease native employment or wages. Both were big events. The boatlift increased Miami’s population by 7 percent, and the Russian migration increased Israel’s population by 12 percent.

The advantage of these studies is that they isolate what economists call a “supply shock” to labor. All of the sudden, for reasons unrelated to other factors in the economy, the supply of labor increased. That makes it easier to determine what that shock’s effects are, because it’s not itself caused by other factors in the economy. This increased Card and Friedberg’s confidence that there really wasn’t an effect on wages from the sudden influx of immigrants. But other studies have found this as well. Peri argues that while low-skilled native workers suffer due to liberalized immigration in the short-run, they aren’t affected in the long-run.

Of course, Borjas, Katz and other skeptics argue that low-skilled immigration very clearly reduces wages and employment for low-skilled American workers. The issue is, as yet, unresolved. But the consensus view among economists is that the effect, even if negative, is negligible.

January 22, 2013

Non-English preference speakers in the U.S doubled since 1980

The number of United States residents who speak a language other than English at home has more than doubled since 1980. Based on results from analysis of the 2007 American Community Survey, the Census Bureau report finds that a large majority of the population aged 5 and older in the United States (80 percent) speaks only English at home. However, the number of individuals who speak a language other than English at home more than doubled between 1980 and 2007. The magnitude of this growth is four times greater than the nation’s population growth.

The number of individuals who spoke a language other than English at home increased 140 percent from approximately 23.1 million in 1980 to 55.4 million in 2007. By contrast, the overall U.S. population grew 34 percent during this period. The findings also suggest that the prevalence of foreign-language speakers is highest among the younger ages. As shown in Figure 2, 21 percent of children aged 5 to 17 and 24 percent of adults aged 18 to 40 spoke a language other than English at home, compared to 17 percent of adults aged 41 to 64 and 14 percent of adults aged 65 and older.

Spanish speakers account for the largest share of the population who spoke a language other than English at home in 2007 (62 percent). Further, while there were eight languages spoken at home that more than doubled between 1980 and 2007, the largest numerical increase of foreign-language speakers was among those who spoke Spanish. By 2007 the number of Spanish speakers had grown by more than 23.4 million.

The number of residents with low English proficiency is also increasing.

The Census Bureau classifies five percent of US households as linguistically-isolated.5 A linguistically-isolated household is one where no one in the home above the age of 14 speaks English only or speaks a second language and speaks English well. In 2007, 24.5 million individuals reported that they spoke English less than “very well.” The proportion of individuals who are less than proficient in English is especially high for those who speak Spanish at home – at 47 percent – and those who speak Asian and Pacific Island languages, at 49 percent.

The number of individuals with inadequate English-language skills is rapidly increasing, according to a second report from the Government Accountability Office (GAO) that analyzes trends not tracked in the Census report. The GAO study finds that adults who speak English less than “very well” rose 21.8 percent between 2000 and 2007, to about 22 million. The study also reports that the largest numbers of adult residents with limited English-language proficiency in 2007 lived in six large immigrant “gateway” states: California, Florida, Illinois, New Jersey, New York and Texas. A second group of states, however – Alaska, Arizona, Arkansas, Georgia, Nevada and Tennessee – posted the highest growth rates in this population during the 2000 to 2007 period. These 12 states account for 75 percent of the national adult population with limited English-language proficiency.

Source: Curtis Skinner, Vanessa R. Wight, Yumiko Aratani, Janice L. Cooper, and Kalyani Thampi. English Language Proficiency, Family Economic Security, and Child Development. Publication Date: June 2010

Other sources:

Government Accountability Office. 2009. English Language Learning: Diverse Federal State Efforts to Support Adult English Language Learning Could Benefit from More Coordination. Report to the Ranking Member, Subcommittee on Children and Families, Committee on Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions, U.S. Senate. Accessed May 19, 2010 from

Shin, Hyon B.; Kominski, Robert A. 2010. Language Use in the United States: 2007. American Community Survey Reports, ACS-12. Washington, DC: U.S. Census Bureau. Accessed May 19, 2010 from http://www.census.gove/prod/2010pubs/acs-12.pdf.

January 15, 2013

Asian immigrants adding largest numbers to workforce

In 2000, 60% of new legal immigrants were Hispanic and 20% Asians. In 2010, 37% were Asians and 31% Hispanic. Asia has become the largest origin of new legal immigrants, says Pew Research in a report issued in 2012. And, they are proportionally to other origins more likely to come here for work.

Asians recently passed Hispanics as the largest group of new immigrants to the United States. The educational credentials of these recent arrivals are striking. More than six-in-ten (61%) adults ages 25 to 64 who have come from Asia in recent years have at least a bachelor’s degree. This is double the share among recent non-Asian arrivals, and almost surely makes the recent Asian arrivals the most highly educated cohort of immigrants in U.S. history.

Compared with the educational attainment of the population in their country of origin, recent Asian immigrants also stand out as a select group. For example, about 27% of adults ages 25 to 64 in South Korea and 25% in Japan have a bachelor’s degree or more.2 In contrast, nearly 70% of comparably aged recent immigrants from these two countries have at least a bachelor’s degree.

Americans are 28% with college degrees. Asians are 49%; whites, 31%; blacks, 18%; Hispanics, 13%.

Recent Asian immigrants are also about three times as likely as recent immigrants from other parts of the world to receive their green cards—or permanent resident status—on the basis of employer rather than family sponsorship (though family reunification remains the most common legal gateway to the U.S. for Asian immigrants, as it is for all immigrants).

About 15% of green card awardees get their card for employment reasons. About half of all Korean and Indian immigrants who received green cards in 2011 got them on the basis of employer sponsorship, compared with about a third of Japanese, a fifth of Chinese, one-in-eight Filipinos and just 1% of Vietnamese. The Vietnamese are the only major subgroup to have come to the U.S. in large numbers as political refugees; the others say they have come mostly for economic, educational and family reasons.

The modern immigration wave from Asia is nearly a half century old and has pushed the total population of Asian Americans—foreign born and U.S born, adults and children—to a record 18.2 million in 2011, or 5.8% of the total U.S. population, up from less than 1% in 1965.3 By comparison, non-Hispanic whites are 197.5 million and 63.3%, Hispanics 52.0 million and 16.7% and non-Hispanic blacks 38.3 million and 12.3%.

December 27, 2012

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%).

December 22, 2012

Colorado’s surge of Latino voters: sea change in state politics

I have posted on the Colorado Compact recently. Not long ago, Colorado’s Tom Tomcredo was one the country’s most vocal anti-immigration advocates. Now, what a sea change! As reported in Latino Decisions by guest blogger Robert Pruehs:

The election eve polls conducted by Latino Decisions indicated that almost 87% of Colorado Latinos supported Obama in Colorado and 88% supported the Democrat in Congressional elections.

Those numbers are staggering. Combine this overwhelming support for Democrats with what The Pew Center estimates as 14% of the electorate (up from 8% in 2004), and Latinos have become a key constituency for Democratic success in Colorado. A back-of-the-envelope calculation suggests that Latinos accounted for a whopping 12% of the President’s 54% of the vote (more than double his margin of victory). Questions of Latino mobilization and affect all fell by the wayside on November 6th. From here on out, it is hard to imagine a Colorado policy issue that will not be framed at least in part by the question of how Latinos will be affected by, and what are Latino preferences on, the issue.

This, in many ways, represents a sea-change—and one that is in great part a function of the political participation of the Latino community in Colorado.

The Democrats now control Colorado’s state legislature. The Democrats took control of the lower chamber from the Republicans, and now can command the legislative agenda that stalled significant policy proposals for civil unions and the creation of special tuition rates at institutions of higher learning for undocumented immigrants.

December 6, 2012

High immigration rates for the future do not fix our aging problem

The Center for Immigration Studies using Census data and projections thinks that immigrants and their children will comprise most of American population growth but will have minimal effect on increasing the size of the workforce vs. the aged –i.e. it will have little positive impact on the “aging problem.”

Among the findings:

If net immigration (difference between those coming and going) unfolds as the Census Bureau estimated in the last set of projections, the nation’s population will increase from 309 million in 2010 to 436 million in 2050 — a 127 million (41 percent) increase.

By itself future immigration will account for 96 million (75 percent) of future population growth.

The immigrant (legal and illegal) share of the population will reach one in six U.S. residents by 2030, a new record, and nearly one in five residents by 2050.

Even if immigration is half what the Census Bureau expects, the population will still grow 79 million by 2050, with immigration accounting for 61 percent of population growth.

The underlying level of immigration is so high, even assuming a substantial reduction would still add tens of millions of new residents to the U.S. population and account for most of the population growth.

Consistent with prior research, the projections show immigration only slightly increases the working-age (18 to 65) share of the population. Assuming the Census Bureau’s immigration level, 58 percent of the population will be of working-age in 2050, compared to 57 percent if there is no immigration.

While immigrants tend to arrive relatively young and have higher fertility than natives, immigrants age just like everyone else, and the differences with natives are not large enough to fundamentally increase the share of the population who are potential workers.

December 2, 2012

What are the facts of the decline in the immigrant birth rate?

The Pew Research Center issued on November 29 a report on the birth rate in the country. Here are the bullet points for the immigrant birth rate:

Final 2011 data are not available, but according to preliminary data from the National Center for Health Statistics, the overall birth rate in 2011 was 63.2 per 1,000 women of childbearing age. That rate is the lowest since at least 1920, the earliest year for which there are reliable numbers. The overall U.S. birth rate peaked most recently in the Baby Boom years, reaching 122.7 in 1957, nearly double today’s rate. The birth rate sagged through the mid-1970s but stabilized at 65-70 births per 1,000 women for most years after that before falling again after 2007, the beginning of the Great Recession.

The 2010 birth rate for foreign-born women (87.8) was nearly 50% higher than the rate for U.S.-born women (58.9).

From 2007 to 2010, the overall number of births declined 7%, pulled down by a 13% drop in births to immigrants and a relatively modest 5% decline in births to U.S.-born women.

Still, total population growth in the future will depend mostly on foreign born mothers.. The projections indicate that immigrants arriving since 2005 and their descendants will account for fully 82% of U.S. population growth by 2050.

Total U.S. births in 2010 were 4.0 million—roughly 3.1 million to U.S.-born women and 930,000 to immigrant women. In 2011, according to preliminary data, there were 3.95 million total births.

Births to foreign born mothers as a share of all births was 16% in 1990, 25% in 2007, and 23% in 2010.

The share of U.S.-born children younger than age 2 with foreign-born mothers was about as high during the wave of immigration in the early 1900s (21%) as it is now. Thus we are seeing in effect a repeat of the huge influx of foreigners on American fertility now as it was 100 years ago.

The majority of births to foreign-born women (56%) in 2010 were to Hispanic mothers.

Birth rate declines are often driven by economic distress. Both foreign- and U.S.-born Hispanic women had larger birth rate declines from 2007 to 2010 than did other groups. Hispanics also had larger percentage declines in household wealth than white, black or Asian households from 2005 to 2009.5 Poverty and unemployment also grew more sharply for Latinos than for non-Latinos after the Great Recession began, and most Hispanics say that the economic downturn was harder on them than on other groups

October 30, 2012

Net Labor flow from Mexico to U.S. turns positive again

The net flow of labor across the Mexican border has stabilized and gone positive, after a downturn brought on by the Great Recession, according to a tracking study through the second quarter of 2012.

The Tomas Rivera Policy Institute at the University of Southern California is tracking labor flows across the border through its Mexican Migration Monitor program (described at the end of this posting). Roberto Suro & Rene Zenteno reported recently that “Multiple indicators suggest that Mexican migration to the United States has stabilized at reduced levels after absorbing the effects of the Great Recession and toughened U.S. immigration enforcement efforts.

“The most recent data available show that northbound flows are holding steady with signs of increasing unauthorized migration, while southbound flows are decreasing. The result is that the size of the Mexican-born population in the United States has fully recovered from losses experienced during the recession. Meanwhile, unemployment among those migrants has decreased and labor force participation rates have held steady—a post-recession economic performance slightly better than for U.S. native-born workers. Another sign of recovery comes from an increased flow of remittances to Mexico.”

They go on:

Overall, the mechanisms that could produce increased Mexican migration again in response to heightened demand in the U.S. labor market are largely intact despite several years of enforcement efforts designed to stymie them. The size of the Mexican migrant population has not shrunken in the face of more than three years of national U.S. unemployment rates of 8 percent or higher, a record-breaking federal deportation campaign, and the enactment of laws by various state and local governments designed to produce “attrition through enforcement.” Instead, the migration flows may well be passing beyond the much-heralded “net-zero” point at which the numbers of people arriving and leaving balanced each other out in the wake of the recession.

Given the available indicators as of mid-2012, it appears that even a relatively small increase in the demand for Mexican labor in the U.S. economy would prompt a positive response in the migration flows despite intensified enforcement efforts by the federal government, several states, and some local governments.

Unauthorized flows northward showed signs of increasing in the first half of 2012, according to previously unpublished data from the Border Survey of Mexican Migration. Meanwhile, that survey shows that the outbound flow of migrants voluntarily returning to Mexico is decreasing. As a result, the stock of the Mexican-born population in the United States has stabilized at about the same very high level—some 11.7 million people—that it had reached before the recession, according to several indicators studied for this report. The available data for migration trends in 2012 suggest that the size of that population might show a small increase across the entire year unless the U.S. economy flattens or declines in the third and fourth quarters.

Where the data come from:

The Monitor is the work of a cross-border collaboration between two research organizations that have long-standing commitments to the study of Mexican migration. The Tomás Rivera Policy Institute is the oldest U.S. think tank on policy issues related to migration and is now a university research center housed at the Sol Price School of Public Policy at the University of Southern California. El Colegio de la Frontera Norte (COLEF), a government-funded social science research institution whose main campus is in Tijuana, has monitored and assessed Mexican migration flows for more than two decades.

The indicators presented in this report include government statistics on population, employment, remittances, and enforcement actions. Future editions of the Monitor will feature other combinations of such indicators. The core findings are formulated on the basis of previously unpublished data from the Border Survey of Mexican Migration. Operating since 1993, the border survey is the oldest continuous research program tracking original data on the number of people crossing the U.S.-Mexico border legally or illegally. The Encuesta sobre Migración en la Frontera Norte de México (EMIF) is conducted at selected border-crossing points and at airports in the interior of Mexico by COLEF with the support of several agencies and ministries of the Mexican federal government. The border survey offers a unique glimpse at the size and characteristics of migration in both directions across the border with data systematically assembled on a quarterly basis.

October 28, 2012

Snapshot of Indian immigrants: fast growing, highly educated

Indian immigrant population

According to the Migration Policy Institute, when the Immigration Act of 1965 lifted immigrant quotas that had been in place for more than fifty years, the entry of Indians into the United States jumped during the late 1960s and ‘70s….and it surged again in the 21st Century.

The 2.3 million members of the Indian diaspora residing in the United States in 2008 were 66% born in India; of these about 20% had American citizenship while in India. 14% of the 2.3 million total were born among the Indian diaspora in many other countries.

Growth: The growth of the foreign born Indian population is reflected in these population figures: 1960: 13,000; 1970: 51,000; 1980: 206,000; 1990: 450,000; 2000: 1,022,000; and 2009: 1,622,000. This population rose from 01.% of foreign born in 1960 to 4.3% in 2009. After 2000, the Indian immigrant population rose very fast 59% between 2008 and 2009.

73.5% were adults of working age (between 18 and 54).

Highly educated: In terms of academic achievement, Indian immigrants were better educated than other immigrants and the native born. In 2008, 74% of Indian-born adults age 25 and older had a bachelor's degree or higher compared to 27% percent among all 31.9 million foreign-born adults and 28% percent of all 168.1 million native-born adults.

Good employment: Over one-quarter of employed Indian-born men worked in information technology. Among the 713,000 Indian immigrant male workers age 16 and older employed in the civilian labor force in 2008, 28% percent reported working in information technology; 20% percent in management, business, and finance; 11% percent in other sciences and engineering; and 11% percent in sales.

October 23, 2012

Importance of Hispanic vote in November

Hispanic voters may make history this November by enabling Obama to win certain states. Here are the details why.

In 2000, Hispanics made up 5.5% of voters. They are expected to make up 8.9% of voters in 2012, per the Center for Immigration Studies. That growth is due primarily to the growth of the vote-eligible Hispanic population, and a little due to the increase in eligible Hispanic citizens who vote.

According to Bloomberg, Latino registered voters prefer Obama to Romney by 69% percent to 21% as surveyed by the Pew Hispanic Center. In 2008, Obama received 67% of the Hispanic vote, compared with Arizona Senator John McCain’s 31%.

Obama's campaign is counting on Hispanics providing the margin of victory in Nevada and other swing states such as Colorado, Iowa, Virginia and North Carolina. These five states happen to be included in the top 10 states that per the most recent Rasmussen or other poll on or before 10/22 had the closest spread between Obama and Romney.

The point spread between Obama and Romney in these states were Nevada 3%, Colorado 4%, Iowa 0%, Virginia 2%, and North Carolina 3%. These states are responsible for 49 electoral votes compared to 270 needed to win. Florida, which is also very close and has a large Hispanic population, has 29 electoral votes.

The Center for Immigration studies in July noted that taken together Hispanics will average 7.6% of the electorate in the "toss-up", "leaning", and "likely" states. It is thus clear that the Hispanic vote is very important for the above-cited states.

The Center for Immigration Studies estimates that 53% of eligible Hispanics will vote in the upcoming election, an increase from 50% in 2008 and a continuation of the past decade's long upward trend.

The projected Hispanic voter participation rate of 53% percent compares to 66% percent for non-Hispanic whites and 65% percent for non-Hispanic blacks in 2008.

Of the nation’s 52 million Hispanics, 24 million are eligible to vote because of their age and legal status, which makes up about 11% of the U.S. electorate, according to Pew. That is up from 9.5% in 2008.

Only about half of them -- 12 million -- are expected to cast ballots in the election. That compares with a record 9.7 million in 2008, according to Arturo Vargas, executive director of the National Association of Latino Elected and Appointed Officials Educational Fund. A Pew poll found that 77% of Latino registered voters say they are certain to go to the polls on Election Day, compared with 89% of the general public.

July 28, 2011

further on impoverishment of Hispanics

The Pew Research Report, which I cited yesterday, prompted a New York Times article. I am including below the article. Must of the severe collapse of Hispanic assets is due to the housing collapse -- Hispanic households is trying to gain a foothold in home ownership were victims of the over-promotion of home ownership in America.

"Nearly two-thirds of Hispanics’ median net worth in 2005 came from home equity, according to the report, and when the housing market collapsed, so did their wealth. Median home equity for Hispanics fell by 51 percent in the period of the survey. The drop was compounded by the fact that Hispanics tended to live in the places that were hit hardest in the recession, like Florida and California, the report said."

The article:

WOODBRIDGE, Va. — Hispanic families accounted for the largest single decline in wealth of any ethnic and racial group in the country during the recession, according to a study published Tuesday by the Pew Research Center.

The study, which used data collected by the Census Bureau, found that the median wealth of Hispanic households fell by 66 percent from 2005 to 2009. By contrast, the median wealth of whites fell by just 16 percent over the same period. African Americans saw their wealth drop by 53 percent. Asians also saw a big decline, with household wealth dropping 54 percent.

The declines have led to the largest wealth disparities in the 25 years that the bureau has been collecting the data, according to the report.

Median wealth of whites is now 20 times that of black households and 18 times that of Hispanic households, double the already marked disparities that had prevailed in the decades before the recent recession, the study found.

“It’s a very stark reminder of the high share of minorities who live at the economic margins of this country,” said Paul Taylor, executive vice president of the Pew Research Center and an author of the report. “These data really show their economic vulnerability.”

Household wealth, also referred to in the report as net worth, is made up of assets, like a house, a car, savings and stocks, minus debts, like mortgages, car loans and credit cards. It is tracked by the Census Bureau in the Survey of Income and Program Participation, a broad sampling of household wealth by race and ethnicity.

Nearly two-thirds of Hispanics’ median net worth in 2005 came from home equity, according to the report, and when the housing market collapsed, so did their wealth. Median home equity for Hispanics fell by 51 percent in the period of the survey. The drop was compounded by the fact that Hispanics tended to live in the places that were hit hardest in the recession, like Florida and California, the report said.

Continue reading "further on impoverishment of Hispanics" »

July 27, 2011

Recession Study Finds Hispanics Hit the Hardest

This is how the New York Times characterized the Pew Research Center Report issued this week. Here are some key passages from the Report:

The Pew Research analysis finds that, in percentage terms, the bursting of the housing market bubble in 2006 and the recession that followed from late 2007 to mid-2009 took a far greater toll on the wealth of minorities than whites. From 2005 to 2009, inflation-adjusted median wealth fell by 66% among Hispanic households and 53% among black households, compared with just 16% among white households.

As a result of these declines, the typical black household had just $5,677 in wealth (assets minus debts) in 2009; the typical Hispanic household had $6,325 in wealth; and the typical white household had $113,149.

Moreover, about a third of black (35%) and Hispanic (31%) households had zero or negative net worth in 2009, compared with 15% of white households. In 2005, the comparable shares had been 29% for blacks, 23% for Hispanics and 11% for whites.

Hispanics and blacks are the nation’s two largest minority groups, making up 16% and 12% of the U.S. population respectively.

Continue reading "Recession Study Finds Hispanics Hit the Hardest" »

July 8, 2011

In-migration from Mexico has dried up

“No one wants to hear it, but the flow has already stopped. For the first time in 60 years, the net traffic has gone to zero and is probably a little bit negative.” So says an immigration expert about illegal migration of Mexicans into the United States.

Legal migration has increased in the past five years, thanks in large part to better management of the visa process by American consulates in Mexico. But illegal migration has declined, and not primarily to stronger immigration enforcement by the United States. The major factors are smaller families, better education resources in Mexico, and better job projects in Mexico if you are educated.

These observations from a New York Times article.

April 27, 2011

The Latino Electorate in 2010: More Voters, More Non-Voters

The Pew Hispanic Center just issued a report on Latino participation in national elections. The number voting is increasingly strongly but participation rates remain low. According to the Center:

More than 6.6 million Latinos voted in last year's election----a record for a midterm----according to an analysis of new Census Bureau data by the Pew Hispanic Center, a project of the Pew Research Center. Fueled by their rapid population growth, Latinos also were a larger share of the electorate in 2010 than in any previous midterm election, representing 6.9% of all voters, up from 5.8% in 2006.

However, while more Latinos than ever are participating in the nation's elections, their representation among the electorate remains below their representation in the general population. In 2010, 16.3% of the nation's population was Latino, but only 10.1% of eligible voters and fewer than 7% of voters were Latino. This gap is due to two demographic factors----many Latinos are either too young to vote or are adults who do not hold U.S. citizenship.

Even so, the number of Latinos eligible to vote continues to increase. In 2010, 21.3 million Latinos were eligible to vote, up from 17.3 million in 2006. In recent midterm election cycles, growth in the number of eligible voters has exceeded growth in the number of voters, resulting in a record number of Latino non-voters last year too----14.7 million.

Among eligible voters, Latino participation rates have lagged behind that of other groups. In 2010, 31.2% of Latino eligible voters say they voted, while nearly half (48.6%) of white eligible voters and 44.0% of black eligible voters said the same.

The report, "The Latino Electorate in 2010: More Voters, More Non-Voters," authored by Mark Hugo Lopez, Associate Director, Pew Hispanic Center, is available at the Pew Hispanic Center's website,

April 5, 2011

Welfare use among immigrants

The Center for Immigration Studies (CIS) reports that immigrants use welfare programs more than non-immigrants, and that illegal immigrants use some welfare programs (food stamps and Medicaid) more than legal immigrants. The overall participation rates are very heavily driven by lower education levels of immigrant families, especially Hispanic.

The study fails to analyze welfare participation rates by household income, which of course is more directly causative of welfare use than is education level.

To its credit, CIS dispells the myth that immigrants come here to get on welfare. "An unwillingness to work is not the reason immigrant welfare use is high. The vast majority (95 percent) of immigrant households with children had at least one worker in 2009. But their low education levels mean that more than half of these working immigrant households with children still accessed the welfare system during 2009."

Immigrant households not only much more likely to be headed by some one without a high school degree (30% compared to 10%). CIS estimates that 80% of adult illegal immigrants have not completed high school or have only a high school education. CIS does not estimate household income levels.

These low education households are, I expect, among immigrants, and more among illegal immigrants, to earn less than native low income households.

Hispanic immigrant households use cash assistance and housing assistance about as much as native households (both in medium single digits – illegal immigrant use of cash assistance is at 1%). They are about twice as likely to use food stamps and Medicaid.

One of the notable findings in the CIS report is that welfare use among both immigrants and native households has risen significantly during the Great Recession.

March 28, 2011

Hispanic population now 16% of total

This report summarizes Census results for 2010:

The Hispanic population surged 43% in the last decade and Hispanics now make up more than 16% of the nation's population, according to just-released Census figures.

The surge in Hispanics' share of the population, larger than demographers initially had expected, underscores the growing importance of the nation's fastest-growing ethnic group in national -- and local -- politics.

Every state in the nation saw a surge in Latinos, and traditional Latino gateways along the border still have the highest percentage, other states also saw rapid Hispanic growth: There are now 17 states where Hispanics make up at least 10 percent of the population, including Utah, Rhode Island and Kansas.

In five states, Hispanics now account for at least a quarter of the population. In states such as Texas and Arizona, that could be good news for Democrats, who have been benefiting from a Hispanic backlash against Republicans' tough rhetoric on illegal immigration. Exit polls indicated that President Obama got two-thirds of the Hispanic vote in the 2008 election.

Non-Hispanic whites now comprise just under 64% of the population, the Census shows.

March 8, 2011

Portrait of Middle Eastern and North African immigrants

The Migration Policy Institute issued a profile of these 830,000 immigrants. “Iraqis are the largest single immigrant population from the Middle East and North Africa in the United States, followed closely by Egyptians. Iraqi, Egyptian, and Lebanese immigrants accounted for over half of the foreign born from the Middle East and North Africa in 2009.”

“Compared to other immigrant groups, the foreign born from the Middle East and North Africa are much better educated and tend to have higher levels of English proficiency. California, Michigan, and New York are home to the largest populations of Middle Eastern and North African immigrants in the country.

“There were 2.0 million members of the Middle Eastern and North African diaspora residing in the United States in 2009.”

“Foreign-born adults of prime working age (25 to 55) from the Middle East and North Africa had a median annual family income of $54,000, which is somewhat higher than the median of $51,200 for all immigrant adults of the same age group. [The median household income of the entire U.S. in 2009 was $52,029.] However, there are notable differences among countries of origin: the median family income of adults of prime working age from Lebanon ($72,400), Kuwait ($70,500), and Algeria ($70,000) was much higher than the median family income of adults in that age group from Yemen ($36,000) and Sudan ($34,000).”

The report in full:

Middle Eastern and North African Immigrants in the United States

By Aaron Terrazas
Migration Policy Institute
Article Image
Of the 830,000 immigrants from the Middle East and North Africa living in the United States in 2008, about 9 percent were children.

March 2011

Immigrants from the Middle East and North Africa have a long history in the United States. As early as 1920, the country was home to at least 50,000 immigrants from the region – primarily from what was then Palestine and Syria, including present-day Lebanon.

By 2009, there were about 830,000 immigrants in the United States from the Middle East and North Africa. Accounting for just 2.2 percent of all immigrants in the United States, immigrants from the region have received growing attention in the post-9/11 era, particularly with US military action in the Middle East and the recent string of uprisings and political unrest in North Africa that have displaced thousands of refugees.

Continue reading "Portrait of Middle Eastern and North African immigrants" »

February 2, 2011

Estimate of illegal immigrant population in 2010

The total number of illegal immigrants is stable and its labor force participation rate remains very high. They are here to work.

The Pew Hispanic Center released an estimate that the total illegal population, of which 58% is Mexican, is unchanged in 2010 from 2009, about 11.2 million, of which 8 million are in the workforce. “This stability in 2010 follows a two-year decline from the peak of 12 million in 2007 to 11.1 million in 2009 that was the first significant reversal in a two-decade pattern of growth. Unauthorized immigrants were 3.7% of the nation's population in 2010.” “Despite the recent decline and leveling off, the number of unauthorized immigrants living in the United States has tripled since 1990, when it was 3.5 million. The size of this population grew by a third since 2000, when was 8.4 million.”

What the reports says about the illegal workforce:

There were 8 million unauthorized immigrants in the workforce in March 2010, down slightly from 2007, when there were 8.4 million. They represent 5.2% of the workforce, similar to their proportion for the past half-decade, when they represented 5% to 5.5% of workers. The labor force participation rate is 71%, compared to 51% for the entire 306 million population.

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November 27, 2010

20% of households speak a language other than English at home

The Census Bureau issued a report earlier this year reporting language use in the United States.

Twenty percent of the population of the U.S. aged five or older speak a language other than English at home. Of the 55.4 million people who spoke a language other than English at home, 62 percent spoke Spanish (34.5 million speakers), 19 percent spoke an Other Indo-European language (10.3 million speakers), 15 percent spoke an Asian and Pacific Island language (8.3 million speakers), and 4 percent spoke an Other language (2.3 million speakers).

In three states (California, New Mexico, and Texas) at least 30% of households speak a language other than English at home.

The majority of speakers across all four of these major language groups reported speaking English “very well.” The percentage of these groups reporting an English- speaking ability of “very well” ranged from around 50 percent of Asian and Pacific Island language speakers to 70 percent of speakers in the Other language group.

People speaking at a level below the “very well” category are thought to need English assistance in some situations.2 Around 24.5 million people reported their English- speaking ability as something below “very well” (that is, “well,” “not well,” or “not at all”). Higher percentages of people needing English assistance were present for speakers of Spanish (47 percent) and Asian and Pacific Island languages (49 percent) than among Other Indo-European languages (33 percent) or Other languages (30 percent).

November 1, 2010

The occupational risks of older Hispanic workers

The older Hispanic worker in a physically tough job -- here is my profile of her and him, published in Risk & Insurance Magazine. If you wish notes of my up to date research sources for this information, write me at pfr at rousmaniere dot com.

The most vulnerable demographic

Injury risks have diminished for most working Americans in recent decades. But for one demographic group, older Hispanic workers, these risks have remained high. This is especially so if you look at the broader context: exposure to injury, risk of failed recovery, and bars to shifting into safer work or retirement.

These are the most vulnerable 250,000 workers in America: Hispanic workers over 58 years or older in high physically demanding jobs.


First, their risk exposure remains high in part because they did not participate that much in the historic shift towards job gentrification.

For the mainstream of the workforce, work has become safer, easier. The share engaged in physically demanding labor has declined by well more than half since 1950, to about 8%. The cognitive content of work rose. So did mainstream educational achievement: the percentage of all workers with at least a high school degree has risen to over 90%.

But these changes have not been that much for Hispanic workers. Over of third of all Hispanics do not speak English well, or at all. Among older Hispanics, less than 70% have high school degrees, and over half are immigrants.

Historically, Hispanic workers fill relatively more injury prone jobs. This is partly due to the past concentration of immigrant Hispanic workers, first in agriculture, then in the 1990s in meat processing; and then in residential construction. Grounds maintenance, janitorial work, and hotel housekeeping also pose their own risks.

Among workers 58 years or older, Hispanics are three times more likely today to have high physically demanding jobs than whites; one quarter more likely than blacks.

And within these jobs Hispanics appear to suffer more injuries. Studies of construction injuries among men, and hotel housekeeping injuries among women, showed that the rates of injury among Hispanics were higher than among other workers. The studies don’t explain why.

The injured Hispanic worker is more likely not to file a claim, if only because of fear and uncertainty among unauthorized workers who make up one third of the entire Hispanic workforce.

Their recovery from injury is more arduous. Dawn Smith, a Spanish-speaking nurse case manager at Genex, the managed care firm, reports that the vast majority of her major injury cases are first generation immigrants. The workers have not blended themselves into mainstream America. Over 90% of her Hispanic clients are less than proficient in English.

The older Hispanics, even with decades to acculturate, often have their children speak English for them.

They are less likely to be informed healthcare consumers, such as by complying with treatment regimes. After all, the rate of Hispanic households without any personal health insurance is double that of the general population.

And “ they continue to be reinjured,” Smith told me. “They are told to work, overriding their temporary restrictions, they continue to work, and they will work until they drop in their tracks.”

The older work injured Hispanic is saddled with personal health conditions as much if not more so than other injured workers. The great majority have some measure of arthritis, and many have high blood pressure or diabetes.

Older Hispanic workers have on average less freedom to exit high-risk jobs for either safer employment or retirement. Their relatively low level of education and language problems can be barriers to entry into safer, more cognitive work.

Retirement is less attainable. The worn out native worker can take social security at age 62 and SSDI whenever eligible due to disability. Unauthorized workers can’t access these benefits, even for those who pay into social security to the tune of several billions of dollars a year. Fewer Hispanics have corporate pensions.

This quarter of a million workers, Hispanic and old, in jobs with high physical demands. Their numbers are bound to grow.

September 15, 2010

A question to readers of Working Immigrants

I am doing a study of Hispanic blue collar workers, both documented and undocumented. If you have any good contact with this working population, please write my at and I would like to converse with you ASAP. I am particularly interested in older workers.

-- Peter

September 1, 2010

Illegal immigration inflow down sharply

The Pew Hispanic Center reports that the annual inflow of unauthorized immigrants to the United States was nearly two-thirds smaller in the March 2007 to March 2009 period than it had been from March 2000 to March 2005.

This has resulted per the Center in a 8% decline in the population of illegal immigrants, from 12 million in March 2007 to 11.1 million in March 2009.

The Pew Hispanic Center's analysis also finds that the most marked decline in the population of unauthorized immigrants has been among those who come from Latin American countries other than Mexico. From 2007 to 2009, the size of this group from the Caribbean, Central America and South America decreased 22%.

Continue reading "Illegal immigration inflow down sharply" »

July 28, 2010

Foreign born workforce growth and distribution

The Congressional Budget Office builds from the Current Population Survey profiles of the foreign born work force as growing more rapidly than the native born and as forming an hour glass demographic shape. People born in other countries represent a substantial and growing segment of the U.S. labor force—that is, people with a job or looking for one. In 2009, 24 million members of the labor force—more than one in seven—were foreign born, up from 21 million in 2004.

Growth of the foreign born labor force since 1994:

In 2009, 24 million members of the labor force were foreign born, up from 21 million in 2004 and 13 million in 1994. Between 1994 and 2004, both the native-born and foreign-born labor forces increased by about 8 million. That relationship was different between 2004 and 2009: Over that period, the native-born labor force grew by 4.3 million, while the foreign-born labor force grew by only 2.5 million.
Although the growth of the foreign-born labor force slowed appreciably from the 1994–2004 period to the 2004–2009 period, it still was considerably faster than the growth of the native-born labor force.

The average annual growth of the foreign-born labor force slowed from about 5.2 percent to about 2.2 percent between the two periods. In contrast, that rate for the native-born labor force was less than 1 percent in each of the two periods.

The composition of the foreign-born labor force also changed between 1994 and 2009. Although workers from Mexico and Central America constituted a minority in the foreign-born labor force during that period, their number grew at a faster rate than did the number of workers from the rest of the world. The total size of the foreign-born labor force increased by 11 million. Of that number, 5 million were from Mexico and Central America, and 6 million were from the rest of the world—corresponding to average annual growth rates of 5.0 percent and 3.7 percent, respectively. As a result, the share of the foreign-born labor force from Mexico and Central America increased from 36 percent in 1994 to 40 percent in 2009

The hour glass shape of the foreign born worker population:

Hispanic working immigrants are less educated, and non-Hispanic workers better educated than native Americans.

Those born in Mexico and Central America are constituting an increasingly large share of the least educated portions of the labor force. For example, in 2009 they made up 64 percent of labor force participants with at most an 8th grade education—a figure that was 58 percent in 2004.

On average, the weekly earnings of men from Mexico and Central America who
worked full time were just over half those of native-born men; women from Mexico and Central America earned about three-fifths of the average weekly earnings of native-born women.

Foreign-born workers who came to the United States from places other than Mexico and Central America were employed in a much broader range of occupations. They were more than twice as likely as native-born workers to be in fields such as computer and mathematical sciences, which generally require at least a college education. Their average weekly earnings were similar to those of native-born men and women.

June 28, 2010

Paranoia about immigrants: case study in Tennessee

Tennessee law now allows English-only workplaces, according to an article in Business Insurance. The articles reads that Governor Phil Bredesen has signed into law a bill that permits English-only policies in the workplace.

The law, which the governor signed last week, states that it is not discriminatory for an employer to institute a policy that requires all employees to speak only English “at certain times when the employer has a legitimate business necessity for such a policy, including but not limited to the safe and efficient operation of the employer’s business.”

The law also requires employers to provide notice to employees of the policy and the consequences of violating it. The law becomes effective immediately.

“After a thorough review of the legislation, the governor determined the English-only portion of the bill did not change Tennessee law,” the governor’s office said in a statement. “The bill also includes unrelated employment protections for volunteer rescue squad workers, of which the governor was very supportive.

May 19, 2010

A profile of residents of Mexican origin

The Pew Hispanic Center released this profile: A total of 30.7 million Hispanics of Mexican origin resided in the United States in 2008, according to the Census Bureau’s American Community Survey. Mexicans in this statistical profile are people who self-identified as Hispanics of Mexican origin; this means either they themselves are Mexican immigrants or they trace their family ancestry to Mexico. Mexicans are the largest population of Hispanic origin living in the United States, accounting for nearly two-thirds (65.7%) of the U.S. Hispanic population in 2008.

This statistical profile compares the demographic, income and economic characteristics of the Mexican population with the characteristics of all Hispanics and the U.S. population overall. It is based on Pew Hispanic Center tabulations of the 2008 American Community Survey. Key facts include:

• Immigration status. Nearly four-in-ten Mexicans (37.0%) in the United States are foreign born, compared with 38.1% of Hispanics and 12.5% of the U.S. population overall. Most immigrants from Mexico (63.4%) arrived in the U.S. in 1990 or later. Two-in-ten of Mexican immigrants (22.0%) are U.S. citizens.

• Language. A majority of Mexicans (61.6%) speak English proficiently.2 Some 38.4% of Mexicans ages 5 and older report speaking English less than very well, compared with 37.3% of all Hispanics.

• Age. Mexicans are younger than the U.S. population and Hispanics overall. The median age of Mexicans is 25; the median ages of the U.S. population and all Hispanics are 36 and 27, respectively.

• Marital status. Less than half of Mexicans (48.2%) and Hispanics overall (46.5%) are married.

• Fertility. Thirty-eight percent of Mexican women ages 15 to 44 who gave birth in the 12 months prior to the survey were unmarried. That was similar to the rate for all Hispanic women—38.8%—but greater than the rate for U.S. women—34.5%.

• Regional dispersion. Nearly four-in-ten Mexicans (36.7%) live in California, and one-in-four (25.2%) live in Texas.

• Educational attainment. Mexicans have lower levels of education than the Hispanic population overall. Nine percent of Mexicans ages 25 and older—compared with 12.9% of all U.S. Hispanics—have obtained at least a bachelor’s degree.
• Income. The median annual personal earnings for Mexicans ages 16 and older were $20,368 in 2008; the median earnings for all U.S. Hispanics were $21,488.

• Poverty status. The share of Mexicans who live in poverty, 22.3%, is higher than the rate for the general U.S. population (12.7%) and similar to the share for all Hispanics (20.7%).

• Health Insurance. One-third of Mexicans (34.8%) do not have health insurance compared with 31.7% of all Hispanics and 15.4% of the general U.S. population. Additionally, 20.4% of Mexicans younger than 18 are uninsured.

• Homeownership. The rate of Mexican homeownership (50.5%) is similar to the rate for all Hispanics (49.1%) but lower than the 66.6% rate for the U.S. population

April 30, 2010

DHS estimates of illegal immigrant population in 2009

The Department of Homeland Security estimates that in January 2009 there were 10.8 million illegal immigrants in the United States, down from 11.6 million in January 2008. The estimated peak of illegal immigrants was 11.8 million in January 2007. Thus, the total number decreased by one million between 2007 and 2009. Go here for a complete report by DHS, which estimates the number of country of origin and by state of residence in the U.S.

April 7, 2010

Joel Kotkin on immigration

Koktin is a demographer who has studied trends in population in the U.S. and worldwide. He has a sunny view of the future for America because of its long term prospects for population growth – fueled by a high fertility rate and immigration.
Go to his website to find reviews of his books, including the most recent, The Next 100 Million: America in 2050.

For Kotkin, immigrants pay a huge role in business innovation here.

“Overall, some of the country’s highest rates of entrepreneurship are found among immigrants from the Middle East, Cuba, South Korea and countries of the former Soviet Union. These recent arrivals regularly build new businesses — from street-level bodegas to the most sophisticated technology firms.

Immigrants started one-quarter of all venture-backed public companies between 1990 and 2005. In addition, large U.S. firms are increasingly led by executives with roots in foreign countries, including 14 CEOs of the 2007 Fortune 100.”

Here is short presentation of his long range view, and his optimistic predictions for the U.S. compared to other countries:

What American Demographics Will Look Like in 2050

By Joel Kotkin March 15 2010
Appearing in:

To many observers, America's place in the world is almost certain to erode in the decades ahead. Yet if we look beyond the short-term hardship, there are many reasons to believe that America will remain ascendant well into the middle decades of this century.

And one important reason is people.

From 2000 to 2050, the U.S. will add another 100 million to its population, based on census and other projections, putting the country on a growth track far faster than most other major nations in the world. And with that growth -- driven by a combination of higher fertility rates and immigration -- will come a host of relative economic and social benefits.

More fertile

Of course the percentage of childless women is rising here as elsewhere, but compared to other advanced countries, America still boasts the highest fertility rate: 50 percent higher than Russia, Germany or Japan, and well above that of China, Italy, Singapore, Korea and virtually all of eastern Europe.

As a result, while the U.S. population is growing, Europe and Japan are seeing their populations stagnate -- and are seemingly destined to eventually decline. Russia's population could be less than a third of the U.S. by 2050, driven down by low birth and high mortality rates. Even Prime Minister Vladimir Putin has spoken of "the serious threat of turning into a decaying nation."

In East Asia, fertility is particularly low in highly crowded cities such as Tokyo, Shanghai, Tianjin, Beijing and Seoul. And China's one-child policy -- and a growing surplus of males over females -- has set the stage for a rapidly aging population by mid-century. South Korea, meanwhile, has experienced arguably the fastest drop in fertility in world history, which perhaps explains its extraordinary, if scandal-plagued, interest in human cloning.

Even more remarkably, America will expand its population in the midst of a global demographic slowdown. Global population growth rates of 2 percent in the 1960s have dropped to less than half that rate today, and this downward trend is likely to continue -- falling to less than 0.8 percent by 2025 -- largely due to an unanticipated drop in birthrates in developing countries such as Mexico and Iran. These declines are in part the result of increased urbanization, the education of women and higher property prices. The world's population, according to some estimates, could peak as early as 2050 and begin to fall by the end of the century.

Continue reading " Joel Kotkin on immigration " »

March 31, 2010

Health insurance coverage among Hispanics

According to the Pew Hispanic Center, a very large number of Hispanics, particular foreign-born are uninsured for healthcare. A new demographic and economic profile of Latinos, based on 2008 census data, finds they are twice as likely as the overall U.S. population to lack health insurance coverage. Among foreign-born Hispanics, the uninsured rate climbs to 50%. In another report of the Center, it reports a 60% uninsured rate among Hispanics who are neither citizens of legal permanent residents.

This suggests that the entire uninsured population in the U.S. has a large share, some 30% or more, which is Hispanic. To me this means that the Obama health care reform is going to impact Hispanics much more than Whites or Blacks- but with a big caveat: the act does not cover illegal immigrants, who will continue to rely on free care.

The report says:

A question on health insurance coverage was asked in the 2008 American Community Survey for the first time in 2008. The uninsured rate estimated from the ACS reflects the share of the population that lacked public or private health insurance coverage at the time of the survey. The ACS is conducted each month of the year and the resulting estimate is an annual average for 2008.

Among racial and ethnic groups, Hispanics are the least likely to have health insurance. Nationally, the uninsured rate among Hispanics was 31.7% in 2008. The rate among whites—10.7%—is the lowest of any group and the rate for blacks—19.0%—lies in between. Nativity also matters—12.9% of all native born are uninsured but the rate climbs to 32.9% for the foreign born. The uninsured rate for non-citizens was 46.4% in 2008.

In California, the uninsured rates are as follows:

Hispanics, 29%
Native-Born Hispanics, 18%
Foreign-Born Hispanics, 45%
Non-Hispanic Whites, 10%
Non-Hispanic Blacks, 17%
Hispanics 17 and Younger. 15%
Non-Hispanic Whites 17 and Younger, 6%
Non-Hispanic Blacks 17 and Younger, 9%

February 25, 2010

Illegal immigrants and healthcare coverage

Massachusetts is the only state with a large publicly run program that assures low income workers of getting private health insurance. Last year, to stem the growth of the program (which demands a lot of taxpayer subsidy), the state cut off all illegal immigrants from the program. Now a lawsuit is demanding that these households be restored their insurance.

An article from the Boston Globe:

By Kay Lazar, Globe Staff

A state law that excludes more than 26,000 legal immigrants from health coverage is unconstitutional and should be struck down, according to an unusual class action lawsuit filed today by several of the affected immigrants.

The lawsuit charges that the state's Connector Authority and its executive director, Jon Kingsdale, violated the immigrants' equal protection under the law last year when the administrators cut their health coverage in the Commonwealth Care program because of a tight state budget.

The Connector oversees the state's 2006 landmark health law that created Commonwealth Care, a state-subsidized program for low-income residents.

"You can't violate people's constitutional rights, just because you don’t have the funds," said Matt Selig, executive director of Health Law Advocates, a Boston-based public interest law firm that is assisting the immigrants in the suit.

Last year, the immigrants lost their coverage in Commonwealth Care, after lawmakers eliminated $130 million in funding to help balance the state’s budget. The Legislature ultimately restored about a third of the money, and the immigrants were given stripped-down health care plans, with significantly higher copayments for medications and other treatments.

Selig said the immigrants have taken the unusual step of filing the case directly with a single justice of the Supreme Court, because the urgency and broad impact mandate immediate review of the legal questions involved.

Eva Millona, executive director of the Massachusetts Immigrant and Refugee Advocacy Coalition, said it was unfortunate that immigrants have to sue the state, especially because Governor Deval Patrick and his administration have fought hard to retain coverage for the group. But she said the immigrants could not legally sue the Legislature, which is the body that voted to cut their health coverage.

"These people are their neighbors, they pay taxes, they are part of the fabric, but they are being separated because of their immigration status," she said.

Dick Powers, a spokesman for the Connector, said the authority had no comment on the lawsuit.

February 16, 2010

Profile of Haitian immigrants and workers

Per the Migration Policy Institute, the United States is home to about 535,000 Haitian immigrants — the largest concentration in any single country of Haitians abroad. As the country descended into chaos following the collapse of the Duvalier dictatorship in the late 1980s, Haitians began arriving in the United States in large numbers. Many received humanitarian protection. Between 1980 and 2000, the Haitian-born population residing in the United States more than quadrupled from 92,000 to 419,000.

The Haitian immigrant population in the United States has continued to grow since 2000, although at a slower rate. Recent natural disasters in Central America and the Caribbean have pushed large numbers of migrants to the United States and in the wake of the January 2010 earthquake in Haiti, emigration pressures from the devastated country are likely to grow.

The Haitian diaspora in the United States has also traditionally played an important role in assisting Haiti recover from natural disasters. More than half of all Haitian immigrants resided in just two states, Florida and New York, although they are also concentrated in New Jersey and Massachusetts.

Haitian immigrant women were more likely to participate in the civilian labor force than foreign-born women overall.
In 2008, Haitian-born women age 16 and older (71.7 percent) were more likely to participate in the civilian labor force than all foreign-born women (57.1 percent) overall. Haitian-born men were about equally as likely to be in the civilian labor force (80.7 percent) as foreign-born men overall (80.6 percent).

Nearly half of employed Haitian-born men worked in services or in construction, extraction, and transportation.

Among the 168,000 Haitian-born male workers age 16 and older employed in the civilian labor force in 2008, 26.1 percent reported working in services and 22.3 percent reported working in construction, extraction, or transportation (see Table 2). By contrast, among the 13.6 million foreign-born male workers age 16 and older employed in the civilian labor force in 2008, 17.4 percent reported working in services and 25.9 percent reported working in construction, extraction, or transportation.

Over one of every four employed Haitian-born women worked in healthcare support.
Among the 182,000 Haitian-born female workers age 16 and older employed in the civilian labor force in 2008, 27.2 percent reported working in healthcare support occupations and 22.7 percent reported working in service occupations (see Table 2). By contrast, among the 9.5 million foreign-born female workers age 16 and older employed in the civilian labor force in 2008, 5.4 percent reported working in healthcare support and 25.7 percent reported working in service occupations.

Haitian immigrants were less likely to live in poverty than other immigrant groups.
The poverty rate among Haitian immigrant families was 12.9 percent in 2008, lower than the poverty rate among all foreign born families (14.9 percent). The difference was even larger among immigrant families headed by a female householder with no spouse present. Among Haitian immigrant households headed by a female with no husband present, the poverty rate was 20.8 percent in 2008, compared to 30.7 percent for all immigrants.

Legal and Unauthorized Haitian Immigrant Population

There were about 230,000 Haitian lawful permanent residents (LPRs) in 2008.
There were about 230,000 Haitian-born lawful permanent residents (LPRs) in the United States in 2008, about 1.8 percent of the estimated total 12.6 million LPRs.

Based on the 2000 Census, the federal government estimated that there were 76,000 unauthorized Haitian immigrants living in the United States.

The most recent published estimates from the Department of Homeland Security, based on analysis of the 2000 Census, suggest that the unauthorized immigrant population from Haiti grew from 67,000 in 1990 to 76,000 in 2000. Haitians accounted for 1.1 percent of all unauthorized immigrants in the United States in 2000, the 11th-largest unauthorized immigrant group in the country.

February 10, 2010

illegal population dropped in 2009

From the Washington Post: U.S. illegal immigrant population falls again. The number of illegal immigrants living in the United States fell by 1 million, or 8 percent, between 2007 and 2009, the U.S. government reported Tuesday. The decline, to 10.8 million people in January 2009 from 11.8 million in 2007 and 11.6 million in 2008, coincides with the national economic downturn. It marked the first back-to-back drops in the number of illegal immigrants since the federal government allowed many to obtain legal status after a 1986 amnesty.

January 23, 2010

A new book on immigrant entrepreneurs

“Immigrant, Inc.” is a new book profiling how immigrants are creating new jobs, products and services by their entrepreneurship. Congratulations to the co-authors for highlighting this aspect of immigration. We see once again why we call America a country of immigrants. For a quick introduction to the book, click on this Youtube site:

December 15, 2009

How a New Jersey town lost one third of its population due to a crackdown

I came across this article dated April 18, 2008. Some of the loss of immigrant households mayt of course have been due to the economy. Nonetheless it shows the extent to which local areas can be economically heavily dependent on low-income immigrants.

A local governing board unanimously enacted a law which fines businesses for hiring and real estate owners from renting to illegal immigrants.

“A hamlet of about 8,000 situated across the Delaware River from Philadelphia, Riverside is just one of more than 30 small towns and suburbs across the country that have recently enacted immigration ordinances, including Escondido, Calif.; Farmers Branch, Texas; and Valley Park, Mo. At the same time, statewide laws that punish business owners for employing illegal immigrants have been passed in Arizona, Oklahoma, and South Carolina.”

The article in full:

How illegal immigration is dividing a town's business owners
In Riverside, N.J., a crackdown that drove away a third of the town's population has some businesses struggling to survive the loss.

RIVERSIDE, N.J. (FORTUNE Small Business) -- A barbershop quartet sings "The Girl From Ipanema" in Portuguese on a television dialed to a Brazilian satellite channel inside Pavilion Barbecue, where the air is piquant with the aroma of the house specialty, frango de churrasco - slow-roasted chicken braised in red chili sauce.

Continue reading "How a New Jersey town lost one third of its population due to a crackdown" »

November 1, 2009

Important 2008 statistics about immigration

The Migration Information Institute has published “Frequently Requested Statistics on Immigrants and Immigration in the United States.” Here are selections from the report:

What share do the foreign born compose of the total US civilian labor force? Of the 156.2 million workers engaged in the US civilian labor force in 2008, immigrants accounted for 15.7 percent (24.5 million). Between 1970 and 2008, the percentage of foreign-born workers in the US civilian labor force nearly tripled, from 5.3 to 15.7 percent. Over the same period, the percent of foreign born in the total population grew from 4.8 to 12.5 percent.

What kinds of jobs do employed immigrants have?
Of the 23.1 million civilian employed foreign born age 16 and older in 2008, 28.1 percent worked in management, professional, and related occupations; 23.4 percent worked in service occupations; 18.0 percent worked in sales and office occupations; 1.9 percent worked in farming, fishing, and forestry occupations; 16.1 percent worked in production, transportation, and material moving occupations; and 12.5 percent worked in construction, extraction, and maintenance occupations.

Among the 123.2 million civilian employed native born age 16 and older, 36.2 percent worked in management, professional, and related occupations; 16.0 percent worked in service occupations; 26.9 percent worked in sales and office occupations; 0.5 percent worked in farming, fishing, and forestry occupations; 11.8 percent worked in production, transportation, and material moving occupations; and 8.7 percent worked in construction, extraction, and maintenance occupations.

Continue reading "Important 2008 statistics about immigration" »

October 5, 2009

Healthcare insurance coverage for legal and illegal immigrants

The Migration Policy Institute has issued a study of immigrant coverage by health insurance. The key findings:

38 percent of legal immigrant children and 31 percent of unauthorized immigrant children have employer-provided coverage, compared to 61 percent of U.S.-born children.

23 percent of the uninsured in California are legal immigrants, who account for more than 10 percent of the uninsured in Texas, New York, Florida, Illinois and New Jersey. States with large immigrant populations could see expanded use of emergency rooms and public clinics if health care reform results in legal immigrants (and the unauthorized as well) being dropped from employer-sponsored insurance.

The share of legal immigrant adults who are uninsured ranges from 54 percent in Texas, 45 percent in Florida and 44 percent in North Carolina to 28 percent in New York.

Unauthorized immigrants represent 15 percent of the nation's 46 million uninsured, while legal immigrants account for 9 percent.

The summary in full:

WASHINGTON — Health care reform proposals under consideration in Congress that would exclude many legal immigrants from core benefits and impose new verification requirements would have important spillover consequences for taxpayers and other health care consumers, according to an analysis released today by the Migration Policy Institute.

Continue reading "Healthcare insurance coverage for legal and illegal immigrants" »

August 19, 2009

health uninsured rates among immigrants: far higher

The Center for Immigration Studies estimates, from federal household survey data, that the healthcare uninsured rate among immigrants is 33% vs the 13% rate for native born Americans. Over a quarter of uninsured Americans are immigrants. The high uninsured rate is high among both legal and illegal immigrants.

Many of course get health insurance for free from community clinics and hospitals under free care provisions. This adds to the cost of health insurance, as hospital free care costs can be made up for by charging insurers more. Universal health insurance coverage will effectively remove this transfer of costs onto private health insurance, at least health insurance for legal immigrants.

The CIS summary in full:

As Congress and the nation debate health care reform, the impact of immigration policy is an important component of that discussion. This Memorandum provides information about immigration’s effect on the nation’s health care system. The analysis is primarily based on data collected by the U.S. government in March 2008 about insurance coverage in the prior calendar year (2007).

Among the findings:

* In 2007, 33.2 percent of all immigrants (legal and illegal) did not have health insurance compared to 12.7 percent of native-born Americans. (Table 1)

* Immigrants account for 27.1 percent of all those without health insurance. Immigrants are 12.5 percent of the nation’s total population. (Figure 1)

* There are 14.5 million immigrants and their U.S.-born children (under 18) who lack health insurance. They account for 31.9 percent of the entire uninsured population. Immigrants and their children are 16.8 percent of the nation’s total population. (Figure 1)

* In 2007, 47.6 percent of immigrants and their U.S.-born children were either uninsured or on Medicaid compared to 25 percent of natives and their children. (Figure 2)

* Lack of health insurance is a significant problem even for long-time residents. Among immigrants who arrived in the 1980s, 28.7 percent lacked health insurance in 2007. (Table 2)

* The high level of uninsurance among immigrants is partly explained by the large share who have low levels of education. This means they often have jobs that do not provide insurance. Moreover, their lower incomes often make insurance unaffordable.

* Cultural factors may also contribute to the high rate of immigrant uninsurance. College-educated immigrants are twice as likely as college-educated natives to lack health insurance.

* In an earlier study, the Center for Immigration Studies estimated that 64 percent of illegal immigrants were uninsured in 2006, accounting for one out of seven people without insurance. If the U.S.-born children (under 18) of illegal immigrants are included, they account for one out of six people without insurance.

* Among legal immigrants (non-citizens), 27 percent were uninsured in 2006.

August 17, 2009

immigrant employment and unemployment -- figures

The Center for Immigration Studies issued two reports today, August 17, about native and immigrant employment.

Share of jobs held by immigrants:

One report looked at percentage of 465 occupations and what share of workers were immigrants. Overall, immigrants comprise about 13% of the workforce. The jobs with over 50% going to immigrants are plasterers, agricultural product sorters, personal groomers, and tailors, dressmakers and sewers.

The immigrant share of the following jobs are: maids and housekeepers, 45%; taxi drivers, 42%; butchers, 37%; grounds maintenance workers, 35%; and construction laborers, 35%.

As for upscale jobs, the following are the immigrant share: medical scientists, 44%; physical scientists, 37%; computer hardware engineers, 30%; physicians and surgeons, 27%; software programmers, 23%; and registered nurses, 13%.

Unemployment rates:

In June 2009, the official unemployment rate for native-born Americans was 9.7 percent, but the broader U-6 measure was 16.3 percent. The U-6 measure includes people who would like to work but have not looked for a job recently, as well as those working part-time involuntarily. For all immigrants, the unemployment rate was 9.7 percent and the U-6 measure was 19.7 percent.

There are 12.7 million unemployed native-born Americans, but using the U-6 measure the number is 21.7 million. 2.348 million immigrants workers were unemployed; the U-6 measure was 4.828 million.

The unemployment rate for native-born Americans with less than a high school education is 20.8 percent. Their U-6 measure is 33.2 percent. The unemployment rate for immigrants with less than high school education is 12.8 percent. Their U-6 measure is 27.1 percent.

The unemployment rate for young native-born Americans (18-29) who have only a high school education is 18.5 percent. Their U-6 measure is 30.3 percent. The unemployment rate for young immigrants (18-29) with only a high school education is 9.6 percent. Their U-6 measure is 24.2 percent.

The unemployment rate for native workers with college degrees was 4.8 percent; for immigrants with college degrees, 7.1 percent. Their U-6 measures were, respectively, were 8.9 percent and 11.6 percent.

July 24, 2009

Mexican inmigration off, few are returning there

The Pew Hispanic Center reports that inmigration of Mexicans to the United States has leveled off, but few already here are returning. Currently, 10% of Mexicans live in the United Stares.

Data from population surveys taken in the U.S. and Mexico indicate that the flow of migrants back to Mexico appears to be stable since 2006. Mexico's National Survey of Employment and Occupation estimates that 433,000 Mexican migrants returned home between February 2008 and February 2009. For the same period in 2007-2008, 440,000 did; for the same period in 2006-2007, 479,000 did. Analysis of the U.S. Current Population Survey also finds no indication of substantially higher outflows to Mexico for 2007 and 2008.

As for migration to the U.S. from Mexico, data from several sources attest to recent substantial decreases in the number of new arrivals. The inflow began to diminish in mid-decade and has continued to do so through early 2009, according to the latest available population surveys from both countries. This finding is reinforced by data from the U.S. Border Patrol showing that apprehensions of Mexicans attempting to cross illegally into the United States decreased by a third between 2006 and 2008.

Mexico is by far the leading country of origin for U.S. immigrants, accounting for a third of all foreign-born residents and two-thirds of Hispanic immigrants. The U.S. is the destination for nearly all people who leave Mexico, and about one-in-ten people born there currently lives in the U.S.

June 29, 2009

Global trend: multicultural societies due to immigration

Goldman Sachs’s Global Economic Weekly published a summary of “Four Demographic Trends that Will Shape the 21st Century.” The four trends: the birth rate of advanced counties will move slightly up to meet the replacement rate of 2.1 children per household; baby boomers will retire throughout the advanced economies, this pushing way up the percentage of the population over 65; India and Africa will assume a larger share of the world population; and “immigration creates more multicultural societies.”

Here is the fourth trend:

Trend #4: Immigration Creates More Multicultural Societies

One of the defining trends in recent years has been increased immigration flows, mainly from developing to advanced economies. About 12% of the OECD population was foreign-born in 2006, up from 10% in 2000. In Canada and Australia, this figure is now above 20%. Over the past decade, net migration on average has accounted for about 50% of the population growth in the OECD, and close to 100% in countries like Spain and

For the US, high rates of immigration are nothing new. The percentage of the population that was foreign-born in 2008, estimated at about 13%, was slightly below the peak of 15% in the first few decades of the 20th century. However, the current immigration boom is different from the one in the early 20th century in a number of respects.

First, the current generation of immigrants has arrived in the US from a much wider set of countries than in the past. Second, partly reflecting the fact that there are now more
restrictions on legal immigration, there are currently many more undocumented workers living in the US. While estimates of illegal immigration are hard to come by, the Pew Hispanic Center estimates that there are about 12mn undocumented people in the US, or about 30% of the total foreign-born population.

Partly as a result of immigration, the populations of many advanced economies are set to become significantly more diverse. For example, the US Census Bureau estimates
that designated minorities groups, which now account for roughly one-third of the US population, will account for half the population by 2042. By 2023, minorities will
account for 50% of children born in the US. And by 2039, minorities will comprise half the working age population, up from 34% currently.

As we discussed in a recent Global Economics Paper No. 168, “Immigration and the North American Economy”, the recent wave of immigration to the US should boost the overall rate of growth for the economy. And as our US equity strategists outlined in a report in October 2007, “US Hispanization: Long/short strategies”, the growth of the Hispanic population ñ which is expected to increase from 46.7mn in 2008 (15% of the US population) to 132.8mn in 2050 (30% of the US population) offers investors a number of compelling opportunities.

As with previous immigration waves, the full benefits from immigration will be realised only if immigrants and their children acquire the requisite skills to prosper in today’s knowledge-based economy. The pattern in the early 20th century was generally one where children of immigrants quickly absorbed new skills and achieved household incomes that were well above that of their parents and, in many cases, well above the national average. As the box above discusses, while there are grounds for optimism, the educational attainment of immigrant children still lags that of native-born children
in many OECD countries. As such, improving educational outcomes will be vital to maximising the gains from immigration.

June 16, 2009

Spotlight on immigrants in Virginia

According to a new study by the Immigration Policy Center, “The foreign-born share of Virginia’s population rose from 5.0% in 1990, to 8.1% in 2000, to 10.3% in 2007….6.4% of all registered voters in Virginia are “New Americans”—naturalized citizens or the U.S.-born children of immigrants who were raised during the current era of immigration from Latin America and Asia which began in 1965

This is one of several state-focused studied highlighting the mainstream participation of immigrants in society and the economy. I have posted before on studies about Texas and New Jersey.

Highlights from the study:

Immigrants, Latinos, and Asians account for large and growing shares of both the economy and the electorate in Virginia. Immigrants make up more than 10% of the state’s population, and 44% of them are naturalized U.S. citizens who are eligible to vote.

1 in 10 Virginians are immigrants or the children of immigrants.

The foreign-born share of Virginia’s population rose from 5.0% in 1990, to 8.1% in 2000, to 10.3% in 2007, according to the U.S. Census Bureau.

43.8% of immigrants in Virginia were naturalized U.S. citizens in 2007—meaning that
they are eligible to vote.

The Latino share of Virginia’s population grew from 2.6% in 1990, to 4.7% in 2000, to
6.5% in 2007. The Asian share of the population grew from 2.5% in 1990, to 3.7% in 2000, to 4.8% in 2007, according to the U.S. Census Bureau.

Latinos comprised 5% of Virginia voters in the 2008 electorate.

Latinos comprised 5% of Virginia voters in the 2008 elections, and Asians 3%, according to CNN exit polls. Barack Obama defeated John McCain among Latino voters in Virginia by 72% to 27%.

Naturalized Citizens Excel Educationally.

In Virginia, 45.5% of foreign-born persons who were naturalized U.S. citizens in 2007 had a bachelor’s or higher degree, compared to 34.1% of noncitizens. At the same time, only 12.6% of naturalized citizens lacked a high-school diploma, compared to 26.6% of noncitizens.

May 30, 2009

Immigrant wages compared to native worker wages in New England

A new study from the Boston Federal Reserve bank tracks the disparity of wages between immigrant and native wages. Nationwide, the median male immigrant earned 70 percent of a male native’s wages, while female immigrants earned 84 percent of their native counterparts. According to a summary of the study by the Providence Business News, “In Massachusetts, male immigrants earned a median wage of $41,406, or 76 percent of the $54,339 earned by the median male native.”

The researcher, Harvard Kennedy School’s Antoniya Owens focused on New England states. Immigration provided most of the region’s workforce growth since at least 1990. “Owens noted that low birth rates and inward migration meant that New England was more reliant than other places on immigrants to bolster its labor force. From 1990 to 2000, New England added 181,000 immigrant workers even as it lost 1,700 native workers. From 2000 to 2006, the region added 253,900 immigrant workers and 183,400 native workers.”

Vermont is an exception to the normal direction of the disparity. “In Vermont, male immigrants earned a median of $42,114, slightly more than male natives, who earned $40,030. (Female natives earned more than their immigrant counterparts in every New England state.) That is likely due to the larger number of immigrants in northern states who hail from Canada, which gives them language and educational advantages, Owens said.”

New Engand’s immigrant workers are better educated and earn on average somewhat more than immigrants nationwide. This is driven in part by the relatively large number of immigrants in the region with advanced degrees, such as in computer sciences.

New England immigrants make up 12% of the workforce – about the same for the country as a whole, but one out of five region households include an immigrant.

May 14, 2009

Postville IA today

“A year after the crackdown at a kosher meatpacking plant, the town is struggling with the bankrupt business, unemployment and high anxiety.” Thus the LA Times chimes in with an update on life in Postville IA. Since the raid, the Agriprocessors plant has tried to recruit Somalians and workers from Palau without sustained success. This is a town which thrived on the basis of large numbers of Hispanic workers, most or all of the men of which have been deported.

The article in full:

By Antonio Olivo
May 12, 2009
Reporting from Postville, Iowa -- A hodgepodge crowd gathers here twice a week for handouts just steps from City Hall and an empty kosher deli.

Outside the local food pantry snakes a line of Guatemalans wearing court-ordered ankle monitors, imported workers from the Pacific island of Palau and unemployed town natives -- almost all there because of a dramatic raid that has left a deep mark in the way the U.S. views and deals with illegal immigration.

Since federal helicopters raced over cornfields on May 12, 2008, en route to arresting 389 illegal workers at a sprawling kosher meatpacking plant, what was a center of commerce in northeastern Iowa teeters toward collapse as the plant sputters in bankruptcy, its managers face prison time and the town fights to stay solvent.

Continue reading "Postville IA today" »

May 1, 2009

Voting by minorities is up, whites slightly down

Such is the key item in a study by the Pew Hispanic Center. This has long term implications for all manner of elections and for legislative agendas, including immigration related legislation. Blacks and Hispanics vote overwhelmingly Democratic.

The summary:

The electorate in last year's presidential election was the most racially and ethnically diverse in U.S. history, with nearly one-in-four votes cast by non-whites, according to a new analysis of Census Bureau data by the Pew Research Center. The nation's three biggest minority groups--blacks, Hispanics and Asians--each accounted for unprecedented shares of the presidential vote in 2008. Overall, whites made up 76.3% of the record 131 million people who voted in November's presidential election, while blacks made up 12.1%, Hispanics 7.4% and Asians 2.5%.

The levels of participation by black, Hispanic and Asian eligible voters all increased from 2004 to 2008, reducing the voter participation gap between themselves and white eligible voters. This was particularly true for black eligible voters. Their voter turnout rate increased 4.9 percentage points, from 60.3% in 2004 to 65.2% in 2008, nearly matching the voter turnout rate of white eligible voters (66.1%). For Hispanics, participation levels also increased, with the voter turnout rate rising 2.7 percentage points, from 47.2% in 2004 to 49.9% in 2008. Among Asians, voter participation rates increased from 44.6% in 2004 to 47.0% in 2008. Meanwhile, among white eligible voters, the voter turnout rate fell slightly, from 67.2% in 2004 to 66.1% in 2008.

April 30, 2009

Unemployment rate for Immigrant labor, 1st Qtr 2009

The Center for Immigration Studies has reported that the unemployment rate among immigrants is soaring. For those without a high school diploma, the rate in the first quarter of 2009 was 19.5%, a jump of 7.9% from 3rd qtr 2007. Overall the immigrant unemployment rate was 9.7%, compared to 8.6% among native Americans.

A summary of the report, “Trends in Immigrant and Native Employment” --

Immigrant unemployment in the first quarter of 2009 was 9.7 percent, the highest level since 1994, when data began to be collected for immigrants. The current figure for natives is 8.6 percent, also the highest since 1994.

The immigrant unemployment rate is now 5.6 percentage points higher than in the third quarter of 2007, before the recession began. Native unemployment has increased 3.8 percentage points over the same period.

Among immigrants who have arrived since the beginning of 2006 unemployment is 13.3 percent.

The number of unemployed immigrants increased 1.3 million (130 percent) since the third quarter of 2007. Among natives the increase was five million (81percent).
The number of immigrants holding a job dropped 2.1 million (9 percent) from the third quarter of 2007 to the first quarter of this year. For natives, the drop was 4.5 million (4 percent).

There is no way to know if the current trend will continue. But these high unemployment rates for immigrants and natives raise the question of whether it makes sense to continue admitting so many new immigrants. In FY 2008, some 1.45 million new immigrants (temporary and permanent) were given work authorization.

From 1994 until a few years ago immigrants consistently had higher unemployment than natives, though the rates tended to converge over time. By 2005 natives consistently had higher unemployment rates.

In the second half of 2007 and into 2008 unemployment began to rise slightly faster for immigrants than for natives. By the first quarter of this year, immigrants had higher unemployment than natives.

Unemployment has risen faster among the least-educated immigrants. The unemployment rate for immigrants without a high school diploma has increased 9.9 percentage points since the third quarter of 2007, reaching 14.7 percent in the first quarter of 2009. For natives without a high school diploma it increased 7.9 percentage points, reaching 19.5 percent during the same period.

The unemployment rate for immigrants with at least a college degree has increased 3.7 percentage points since the third quarter of 2007, reaching 6.3 percent in the first quarter of 2009. For natives it increased 1.5 percentage points to 4.0 percent.

There is little evidence of a labor shortage, particularly for less-educated workers. There are now almost 31 million natives and immigrants with a high school degree or less who are unemployed or not in the labor force. (Persons not in the labor force are those between 18-65 who are neither working nor looking for work.)

Even before the recession began, unemployment for less-educated natives was very high. In the third quarter of 2007 unemployment was 11.6 percent for natives without a high school diploma and 10.6 percent for those (18 to 29) with only a high school diploma.
The states with the largest decline in immigrant employment are Colorado, Georgia, North Carolina, Arizona, Nevada, Minnesota, Massachusetts, New Jersey, Florida, Connecticut, Virginia, and California. Native-born job losses also have been significant in most of these states.

A major reason for the more rapid increase in immigrant unemployment is that they tend to be employed in occupations hit hard by the recession. However, the larger increase in unemployment for educated immigrants is harder to explain.

April 23, 2009

Latest Pew Hispanic Center report on illegal immigrants, April 2009

The Pew Hispanic Center has issued "A Portrait of Unauthorized Immigrants in the United States," which includes population and labor force estimates for each state, as well as national-level findings about families, education, income and other key indicators. Some key findings: the rapid growth of the unauthorized immigrant labor force from 1990 to 2006 has halted. There were 8.3 million unauthorized immigrants in the U.S. labor force in March 2008, accounting for 5.4% of the work force. The 2007 median household income of unauthorized immigrants was $36,000, well below the $50,000 median household income for U.S.-born residents. More than half of adult unauthorized immigrants (59%) had no health insurance during all of 2007.

Entire report summary:

The report finds that unauthorized immigrants are more geographically dispersed than in the past. A group of 28 high-growth states in the mid-Atlantic, Midwest, Mountain and Southeast regions are now home to 32% of the unauthorized population, more than double their 14% share in 1990. California's share declined to 22% from 42% during this same period.

Continue reading "Latest Pew Hispanic Center report on illegal immigrants, April 2009" »

April 21, 2009

Made in L.A.: the immigrant documentary

Winning an Emmy in 2008, “Made in L.A.” is a film for this hour, when immigration reform is being talked about seriously for the first time since the 2007 Congressional debacle over a reform package. Go here to learn more about the 70 minute film, including how to order it. The producers of the film are urging people to view it between April 15 and May 31.

This is how the producers summarize the film: “Made in L.A. follows the remarkable story of three Latina immigrants working in Los Angeles garment sweatshops as they embark on a three-year odyssey to win basic labor protections from a trendy clothing retailer. In intimate verite style, Made in L.A. reveals the impact of the struggle on each woman’s life as they are gradually transformed by the experience.”


Made in L.A. is an Emmy award-winning feature documentary (70 min) that follows the remarkable story of three Latina immigrants working in Los Angeles garment sweatshops as they embark on a three-year odyssey to win basic labor protections from trendy clothing retailer Forever 21. In intimate observational style, Made in L.A. reveals the impact of the struggle on each woman’s life as they are gradually transformed by the experience. Compelling, humorous, deeply human, Made in L.A. is a story about immigration, the power of unity, and the courage it takes to find your voice.

Lupe Hernandez, a five-foot tall dynamo who learned survival skills at an early age, has been working in Los Angeles garment factories for over 15 years since she left Mexico City at age 17. Maura Colorado left her three children in the care of relatives in El Salvador while she sought work in L.A. to support them. She found that the low-paid work came with a high price - wretched conditions in the factories and an "undocumented" status that deprived her of seeing her children for over eighteen years. María Pineda came to Southern California from Mexico in hopes of a better life at 18, with an equally young husband. Twenty three years later, substandard working conditions, a meager salary and domestic abuse have left her struggling for her children's future and for her own human dignity.

These three women, along with other immigrant workers, come together at L.A.'s Garment Worker Center to take a stand for their rights. Against all odds, these seemingly defenseless workers launch a very public challenge (a lawsuit and a boycott) to one of the city's flagship clothiers, calling attention to the dark side of low-wage labor north of the U.S.-Mexico border and revealing the social fault lines of the new globalization.

As seen through the eyes of María, Maura, and Lupe, the workers' struggle for basic economic justice and personal dignity yields hope and growth, but it is also fraught with disappointments and dangers. As the campaign drags on through three long years, meetings at the Garment Worker Center become more contentious and the women undergo dramatic moments of conflict and discouragement. But then the story takes a surprising turn, and the three women find the strength and resources to continue their struggle.

For Lupe, Maura and María, the long campaign is a turning point from victimization to empowerment, and each makes life-changing decisions that they never could have envisioned. Overlooking the city of Hong Kong, where she has traveled after she's hired as an organizer, Lupe reflects on her journey: The more I learn, the lonelier I feel. Ignorance somehow protects you. But then I say, I've come this far, and nothing can take that away from me.

April 15, 2009

Mexican immigrants in the U.S.: a profile of a huge presence

The Pew Hispanic Center published an analysis of Mexican immigrants in the U.S. Mexicans make up the largest share (32%) of all nationalities among immigrant roles. They comprise 5.7 legal and 7.0 illegal immigrants. In 1970, 1.4% of Mexico’s population lived in the U.S. Today 11% do. I have data elsewhere reporting that one out of six adult male Mexicans live in the U.S. The report notes that in the 19th Century, Irish and then Germans, in different decades, made up about a third of all immigrants.

Here is a summary of the report:

The number of Mexicans living in the U.S. is very large from Mexico’s perspective, too. About 11% of everyone born in Mexico is currently living in the U.S. This large-scale
transfer of population has taken place fairly quickly in demographic terms. As of 1970, 760,000 Mexican immigrants, or 1.4% of Mexico’s population, lived in the U.S. And in 1960, Mexico ranked seventh as a source of immigrants to the U.S., behind Italy, Germany, Canada, the Soviet Union, the United Kingdom and Poland.

Continue reading "Mexican immigrants in the U.S.: a profile of a huge presence" »

March 26, 2009

the competitive demographic edge of the U.S. thanks to immigration

The Slow News Is Good News” by Thomas F. Cooley in states the case that the rest of the world is aging at a far faster rate than is the United States. The reason? – we are a nation with continuous in-migration. The benefits: less of a retired-to-worker demographic imbalance. Relatively more tolerance for change. More productivity.

A passage from Cooley’s article:

The world economy is undergoing an even more dramatic transformation now, under the radar and at such a low frequency that it is easy to overlook. But we ignore it at our peril because it has profound consequences for issues--like "global imbalances"--that many think are directly linked to our current economic woes.

Let's begin with a few facts about population growth. In almost all of the economically successful countries and regions, birth rates have declined and, as a result, the population is aging. In some countries, the population growth has or will become negative.

In China, for example, the median age of the population is expected to increase by nearly 11 years between now and the year 2050--from roughly 34 years to 45 years--and the population growth rate there will turn negative in the next several years. The picture is similar in Japan, where the growth rate has already reached close to zero. The average age is expected to increase from 44.7 years to over 55 years by 2050. In Korea, the median age of the population is expected to increase by nearly 20 years by 2050. If you've traveled to these countries recently, you'll probably have noticed the significant graying of their population.

Similar patterns hold in Russia and much of Eastern Europe. All are expected to have shrinking populations. In Western Europe, the pattern is a little bit different, but the outcome is similar. The average age of the population is currently 40 years and is expected to increase to 47 by year 2050. Obviously, birth rates are well below replacement, and the population growth rate is projected to be negative eventually for the whole of Western Europe.

The demographic picture for the U.S., in contrast, is quite good. The median age is 36 and is expected to increase to just over 40 by 2050. The population growth rate will continue to stay positive and significant.

March 5, 2009

Immigrants and the California economy

The Immigration Policy Center issued a report last week which reported on the extent (large) of the immigrant workforce in California, and the net effect (positive) of this immigrant workforce on wages of all workers. About one third of the workforce is immigrant. Since these workers complement, rather than compete, with American – born workers, their net effect is to push general wages up by 4%.

The summary of the report:

Latinos and Asians account for more than one-quarter of California’s businesses and buying power.

The 2008 purchasing power of California’s Latinos ($249 billion) and Asians ($162.8 billion) is the highest of any state in the nation. Together, Latinos and Asians account for roughly 30% of the state’s total consumer purchasing power. Since 1990, the purchasing power of Latinos in California has increased by 258%, and the purchasing power of Asians by 272%, according to the Selig Center for Economic Growth at the University of Georgia.

California’s 427,678 Latino-owned businesses had sales and receipts of $57.2 billion and employed 445,820 people in 2002. The state’s 371,530 Asian-owned businesses had sales and receipts of $125.8 billion and employed 745,874 people. Together, businesses owned by Latinos and Asians comprised more than one-quarter of all businesses in the state, according to the U.S. Census Bureau’s 2002 Survey of Business Owners.

Immigrant workers, entrepreneurs, and taxpayers are integral to California’s economy.
“Immigrants comprise more than one-third of the California labor force. They figure
prominently in key economic sectors such as agriculture, manufacturing and services. Immigrants provide leadership and labor for the expansion of California’s growing economic sectors—from telecommunications and information technology to health services and housing construction,” according to the California Immigrant Policy Center.

Continue reading "Immigrants and the California economy" »

February 24, 2009

Dept of Homeland Security: illegal count is down

A USA Today article reports that the Department of Homeland Security confirms that the number of illegal immigrants is down – very slightly, from 11.8 million in January 2007 from 11.6 million in January 2008. Of course that is more than year ago, and what a year it’s been. I have posted on estimates by others organizations recently. The article says that Nevada has the highest population percentage which is illegal: 11%.

The article in full:

Illegal immigrant population declines
By Thomas Frank USA Today, February 24, 2009

Washington, DC -- The number of illegal immigrants in the USA fell for the first time in at least four years, as the nation's tough economy discourages people from sneaking into the USA, the Homeland Security Department said Monday.

The decline still left the country with 11.6 million illegal residents in January 2008, down from a record 11.8 million a year earlier, according to a Homeland Security report. There were about 4 million illegal residents in 1990, according to federal agencies and researchers.

Homeland Security spokesman Mike Keegan said rising unemployment led to fewer people trying to sneak across the border. Keegan also said the department is doing a better job stopping people from entering the country illegally and apprehending illegal residents in the USA.

Continue reading "Dept of Homeland Security: illegal count is down" »

February 3, 2009

Surge in Hispanic vote, November 2008

The Immigration Policy Center issued a report late in 2008 documenting the growth of the Hispanic vote in presidential elections (from 8% in 2004 to 9% in 2008) and the huge swings in the Hispanic vote from Republican (Bush) in 2004 to Democrat (Obama) in 2008. Obama also pulled a lot more of the Asian vote.

Some of the report:

Latinos Are a Rapidly Growing Share of the Electorate.

Roughly 11 million Latinos voted in this election, up from 7.6 million in 2004. According to CNN exit polls, Latinos accounted for about 9% of all voters (up from 8% in 2004) and Asians 2% (roughly the same as in 2004). The Pew Hispanic Center estimates that roughly 50,000 Latinos turn 18 each month and hence are eligible to vote for the first time. A post-election survey by the NALEO Educational Fund, impreMedia, and the Latino Decisions polling firm found that 92% of Latino registered voters cast ballots (up from 81.5% in 2004). 39% of Latino voters were foreign-born.
15% of Latino voters were voting in a Presidential election for the first time.

CNN exit polls indicate that Obama defeated McCain by 67% to 31% among Latino voters, and 62% to 35% among Asian voters. This represents a pronounced decline in support for the Republican Party since 2004, when George W. Bush won 44% of the Latino vote and 44% of the Asian vote.

According to exit polling in Los Angeles by Asian Pacific American Legal Center, Obama won the Asian American vote by 68% to 30%. Moreover, 24% of Asian American Republicans crossed party lines to support Obama, and 62% of unaffiliated Asian Americans voted for Obama. From 2004 to 2008, Republicans Lost Ground with Latinos in Key States.

“An anti-Hispanic attitude is suicidal. As the party of Lincoln, Republicans have a moral obligation to make our case to Hispanics, blacks and Asian-Americans who share our values. Whether we see gains in 2010 depends on it.” -- Karl Rove, former Senior Adviser to George W. Bush, in Newsweek, Nov. 24, 2008.

In Texas, where 20% of the electorate was Latino, Obama defeated McCain among Latino voters by 63% to 35%. In 2004, Bush won 49% of the Latino vote—only one percentage point less than Kerry. In California, where 18% of the electorate was Latino, Obama defeated McCain among Latino voters by 74% to 23%. In 2004, Bush won 32% of the Latino vote. In Florida, where 14% of the electorate was Latino, Obama defeated McCain among Latino voters by 57% to 42%. In 2004, Bush won 56% of the Latino vote.

In New Mexico, where 41% of the electorate was Latino, Obama defeated McCain among Latino voters by 69% to 30%. In 2004, Bush won 44% of the Latino vote.
In Nevada, where 15% of the electorate was Latino, Obama defeated McCain among Latino voters by 76% to 22%. In 2004, Bush won 39% of the Latino vote.

January 8, 2009

Immigrant workers figure in the fastest growing industries

Chris Boggs, a professional friend, prepared a list of the top seven high-growth industries. It is striking how many of them depend heavily on immigrant labor. The 8th one, he told me, is computer and software designers, about 40% of which I have reported before are foreign born.

Chris’s list:

Following are the seven fastest growing industries according to the US Bureau of Labor Statistics.

NAICS base codes are provided along with brief descriptions of each industry as defined by the NAICS ( Base codes may include several specific classifications.

1. Management, Scientific and Technical Consulting Services (5416): moderate foreign-born representation.

This industry and its employees provide professional advice and assistance to businesses, municipal entities and governments seeking/needing help and direction in all areas of business or entity management. Scientific and technical consultants provide more specialized expertise. Specialized knowledge, experience and/or training are required of these consultants.

2. Individual and Family Services (6241): moderate foreign born representation.

This industry and its employees are primarily engaged in providing nonresidential individual and family social assistance services specifically directed toward children, the elderly, persons diagnosed with mental retardation or persons with disabilities. Services include counseling, day care, advocacy and recovery help.

3. Home Health Care Service (621610): in some sub-categories, high foreign born representation.

This industry is primarily engaged in providing skilled nursing services in the individual patient's home offering a range of services including: personal care services; homemaker and companion services; physical therapy; medical social services; medication administration; medical equipment and supplies training; counseling; 24-hour home care; occupation and vocational therapy; dietary and nutritional services; speech therapy; audiology; and high-tech care, such as intravenous therapy.

4. Securities, commodity contracts and other financial investments and related activities (523): Low foreign born representation.

This classification engages a plethora (a whole bunch) of financial service professionals from investment bankers through to commodities brokers and trust officers and portfolio managers. The economic downturn is not permanent, so this will likely be a growth profession again soon. Special insurance coverages that should be explored include:
5. Facilities Support Services (561210): high foreign born representation

This industry is primarily engaged in providing a combination of support services within a client's facilities such as janitorial; maintenance; trash disposal; guard and security; mail routing; reception; laundry; and other related services that support the operations of the client's facilities. Establishments that operate correctional facilities (i.e., jails) on a contract or fee basis are included in this industry class.

6. Residential Care Facilities (6232, 6233, 6239): high foreign born representation.

A wide range of operations is anticipated by this particular classification. Establishments and employees engaged in this industry primarily provide residential care and personal care services to facility-housed patients who suffer from mental retardation; require on-going medical care; suffer from a mental health issue; or provide group living for the elderly that do not require continuous medical treatment (retirement home). Also included in this broad classification are employees of children's homes, "boot camp" facilities, half-way homes and orphanages.

7. Independent Artists, Writers and Performers (711510): Probably average foreign born representation.

This industry comprises independent (i.e., freelance) individuals primarily engaged in performing in artistic productions, creating artistic and cultural works or productions or in providing technical expertise necessary for these productions. This industry also includes athletes and other celebrities exclusively engaged in endorsing products and making speeches or public appearances for which they receive a fee.

December 30, 2008

Hispanic employment down, immigrants returning home

“The economic downturn has meant less available work for immigrants and more competition from Americans…. In the third quarter of 2008, 71.3% of Latino immigrant workers were either employed or actively seeking work, compared with 72.4% in the same quarter a year earlier, according to a new study by the Pew Hispanic Center, a nonpartisan research organization. The 1.1-percentage-point drop "marks a substantial decrease in the labor-market participation of Latino immigrants," says Rakesh Kochhar, the Pew economist who prepared the report…."these trends suggest that at least some foreign-born Latinos are not only leaving the labor force but, perhaps, also returning to their countries of origin," the report said.”

Such is a Wall Street Journal article about a Pew Hispanic Center report. Here it is in full:


LOS ANGELES -- A year ago, a day-laborer center adjacent to a Home Depot here teemed with Latin American immigrants who showed up and found a sure day's work painting, gardening or hauling.

These days, more than immigrants are packing the Hollywood Community Job Center: Unemployed Americans are joining them. There's little work for anybody.

Continue reading "Hispanic employment down, immigrants returning home" »

December 22, 2008

28% of workers in New Jersey are immigrants.

They make up 20% of the entire population but more of them are of working age than the bob-immigrant population. Such were the findings of a recent Rutgers University study, reported by the Associated Press.
Immigrants occupy both ends of the workforce. 40% of advance degree holding workers are foreign-born. New Jersey currently ranks third in the nation, behind only Hawaii and California, in the percentage of immigrants to total population.

The study, “Destination New Jersey: How Immigrants Benefit the State Economy, is available here.

December 14, 2008

The Filipino immigrant population

The Migration Policy Institute issued a report this fall on Filipino immigrants. Not surprisingly, the percentage of Filipino immigrant workers who work as nurses is 15%, vastly higher than the percentage of nurses in the entire domestic workforce (about 3 million out of 130 million. By and large, Filipinos often trail behind Mexicans in terms of most in immigrant categories. but they are much more educated than Mexicans. More facts are below.

The number of Filipino immigrants in the United States tripled between 1980 and 2006, from 501,440 to 1.6 million, making them the second largest immigrant group in the United States after Mexican immigrants and ahead of the Chinese, Indian, and Vietnamese foreign born. They are second behind Mexicans in the number of lawful permanent residents (540,000 out of 12.1 million).

Thumbnails: Filipino immigrant women outnumbered men by about three to two in 2006. The majority of Filipino immigrants were naturalized US citizens in 2006. About one-third of Filipino immigrants in 2006 were limited English proficient. Nearly half of Filipino foreign-born adults had a bachelor's or higher degree. Almost one-third of employed Filipino-born women had health-care and related occupations.

More highly educated: In 2006, 49.6 percent of the 1.4 Filipino-born adults age 25 and older had a bachelor's degree or higher compared to 26.7 percent among the 30.9 million foreign-born adults.

On the other end of the education continuum, about 8.9 percent of Filipino immigrants had no high school diploma or the equivalent General Education Diploma (GED), compared to 32.0 percent among all foreign-born adults. About 14.8 percent had a high school diploma or GED compared to 23.8 percent among all foreign-born adults.

Healthcare employment: Among female Filipino-born workers, 15.0 percent reported working as registered nurses, 6.6 percent reported working as other health-care practitioners, 6.6 percent reported working in health-care support occupations, and 1.3 percent reported working as physicians. Compared to other immigrants, Filipino-born male workers age 16 and older employed in the civilian labor force were also more likely to report working in health-care and related occupations.

Filipino immigrants also have the highest percentage of all immigrant nationalities serving or having served in the military.

November 26, 2008

Fallout from an immigrant murder in New York

On Saturday, November 8, a gang of men who have been terrorizing immigrant workers in Suffolk County, Long Island, NY, killed an Ecuadorian near the train station in Patchogue. The killing of Marcelo Lucero tore a deep emotional gash within the county’s population, which has been deeply divided over the issue of enforcement of immigration laws. The New York Times today (11/26/08) printed an editorial which tries to place local police enforcement of immigration laws within the context of standards of decency and protection of human rights.

This is the kind of event which would prompt more focus on immigration reform, were it not for the financial crisis the country is in.

Long Island Wins, a pro immigrant blog for Island Island, has been covering this and other developments involving low wag immigrant labor.

The editorial in full:

A Catastrophic Silence
November 26, 2008

The killing of Marcelo Lucero, an Ecuadorean immigrant, on Long Island this month brought with it a cruel blessing. From a shocking crime — an assault by a gang of boys accused of making a hobby of hunting Latinos — came a chance for a stricken, divided community to bind old wounds and to bury anger.

Instead, the moment is collapsing into the same old shouting. Advocates for immigrants are condemning the Suffolk County executive, Steve Levy, as somehow complicit in the killing for his rigid devotion to immigration enforcement. Mr. Levy is lashing back and trying to distribute blame fairly. He wonders, for example, how a gang out of “A Clockwork Orange” could have run free for so long, firing BB’s and hateful slurs at random victims, jumping and punching them for sport.

Continue reading "Fallout from an immigrant murder in New York" »

November 8, 2008

A rich study of the illegal workforce’s economic impact

Waco TX-base The Perryman Group published an indepth and data rich study of the illegal workfroce in the country with a scenario were the illegal workforce eliminated. And partial replaced with domestic workers. It is called: An Essential Resource: An Analysis of the Economic Impact of Undocumented Workers on Business Activity in the US with Estimated Effects by State and by Industry

Key statistics from the study: There are 8.1 million illegal workers in the U.S., in 2008, a figure equal from that which the Pew Hispanic Center would estimate based on a 68% workforce participation rate within the illegal population. The total immigrant population in the U.S has grown to 37 million, or 13% of the population compared to 5% of the population in 1970.

A “dynamic” forecast of job loss within the 130 million total civilian workforce estimates that after the elimination of these 8.1 million jobs, about 2.8 million jobs would no net be lost. Arizona would relatively speaking be the worst off. 65% of its immigrant population if illegal, or 15% of its workforce. It would lose 5% of its workforce compared to 4% in California and 5% nationwide. Arizona now has about 400,000 illegal workers compared to 2 million in California and 1.2 million in Texas.

Were the elimination of illegal workers to happen, the per capita loss of income would be $1,251 in California, $$1,159 in Arizona, and $1,099 in Nevada.

Excerpts from the study:

In this study, The Perryman Group (TPG) considered factors such as

• the likely numbers of undocumented workers by state,
• concentration of undocumented workers by industry,
• dynamic adjustments that would be set in motion by a major change in immigration policy,
• spillover effects as various supply chains and payrolls are affected, and
• relative differentials in skill levels and compensation associated with undocumented workers.

Continue reading "A rich study of the illegal workforce’s economic impact" »

October 26, 2008

A book on internal worker migration in China

About 150 million workers, many of them women, have migrated within China for work. This internal migration matches or exceeds the entirety of world-wide transborder worker migration in the recent past. "Factory Girls" is a newly published book which examines this Chinese migration among women. The author at one time was one of these women. the New York Times published the following review:

Published: October 21, 2008

From Village to City in a Changing China
By Leslie T. Chang
Spiegel & Grau. 420 pages. $26.

Some day the manic thrust of China’s continuing dash for development will have passed, and the quest for leisure so cherished in developed countries will become as commonplace among Chinese as their current thirst for achievement.

Perhaps by then, new heroes will have emerged to help explain how the world’s most populous nation rejoined the ranks of the rich.

For now, the familiar story line credits the former leader Deng Xiaoping (1904-97) for breaking the dismal, decades-long run of misrule and foreign subjugation, feudalism and civil war, and finally the fanatical excesses of Mao Zedong.

Continue reading "A book on internal worker migration in China" »

October 2, 2008

Pew Hispanic Center estimates of illegal immigrants, 2008

The Center, whose estimates of the illegal population and illegal workforce I have posted on the past, estimates that as of March 2008 there were 11.9 million illegal immigrants. That is close to the 11.8 million estimate for 2007 put out the other day by the Department of Homeland Security. Back in 2004, the Center estimated that the workforce participation rate of illegal immigrants was 68%m at 7 million. Applying the same percentage today yields an estimate of 8.1 million illegal workers.

The annual inflow of illegal immigrants has declined from the 800,000 level earlier in this decade to 500,000 since 2005. I believe this is the estimate of in-migration, and does not reflect out-migration.

The Center’s past estimates of the entire illegal population was 8.4 million in 2000 and 11.4 million in 2005.

The Executive Summary:

There were 11.9 million unauthorized immigrants living in the United States in March 2008, according to new Pew Hispanic Center estimates. The size of the unauthorized population appears to have declined since 2007, but this finding is inconclusive because of the margin of error in these estimates.

However, it is clear from the estimates that the unauthorized immigrant population grew more slowly in the period from 2005 to 2008 than it did earlier in the decade.

It also is clear that from 2005 to 2008, the inflow of immigrants who are undocumented fell below that of immigrants who are legal permanent residents. That reverses a trend that began a decade ago. The turnaround appears to have occurred in 2007.

Continue reading "Pew Hispanic Center estimates of illegal immigrants, 2008" »

September 24, 2008

Homeland Security estimates of illegal population 2007

The Department of Homeland Security released a study in September 2008 which estimated the size of the illegal population in the U.S. “In summary, an estimated 11.8 million unauthorized immigrants were living in the United States in January 2007 compared to 8.5 million in 2000. Between 2000 and 2007, the unauthorized population increased 3.3 million; the annual average increase during this period was 470,000. Nearly 4.2 million (35 percent) of the total 11.8 million unauthorized residents in 2007 had entered in 2000 or later. An estimated 7.0 million (59 percent) were from Mexico.” This study is consistent with Pew Hispanic Center studies from prior years, which I have posted on.

How the estimate was made:

Two populations are estimated in order to derive the unauthorized population estimates: 1) the total-foreign born population living in the United States on January 1, 2007, and 2) the legally resident population on the same date. The unauthorized population is equal to 1) minus 2). It was assumed that foreign-born residents who had entered the United States prior to 1980 were legally resident since most were eligible for legal permanent resident status.1 Therefore, the starting point for the estimates was January 1, 1980.

Overall trend:

DHS estimates that the unauthorized immigrant population in the United States increased from 8.5 million in January 2000 to 10.5 million in January 2005, 11.3 million in January 20062, and 11.8 million in January 2007 (see Figure 1). The annual average net increase in the unauthorized population during this 7-year period was 470,000

Nearly 4.2 million (35 percent) unauthorized immigrants in 2007 had entered the United States since January 1, 2000 (see Table 1). An estimated 890,000 (8 percent) came to the United States in 2005 or 2006 while 3.3 million (28 percent) came during 2000 to 2004. Forty-five percent came to live in the United States during the 1990s, and 19 percent entered during the 1980s.

The estimated number of unauthorized immigrants as of January 2007 is consistent with other unauthorized population estimates. The Pew Hispanic Center estimated the unauthorized population at 11.1 million in March 2005 and projected it would be 11.5 to
12 million by March 2006 (Passel, 2006).

Geographic source:

An estimated 8.9 million of the total 11.8 million unauthorized
immigrants living in the United States in 2007 were from the North America region, including Canada, Mexico, the Caribbean, and Central America (see Figure 2). The next leading regions of origin were Asia (1.4 million) and South America (850,000).
The 2000 unauthorized immigrant population was similar in region of origin composition.
Mexico continued to be the leading source of unauthorized immigration to the United States (see Table 3). The estimated unauthorized immigrant population from Mexico increased from 4.7 million in 2000 to 7.0 million in January 2007. The annual
average increase in Mexican unauthorized immigration to the United States was 330,000 during the 2000-2007 period. The next leading source countries for unauthorized immigrants in 2007 were El Salvador (540,000), Guatemala (500,000), the
Philippines (290,000) and China (290,000). The top ten countries of origin represented 82 percent of the unauthorized immigrant population in 2007. Although immigration from Mexico continues to dominate unauthorized population growth, the greatest percentage increases during 2000-2007 were among immigrants from Brazil (89 percent), India
(81 percent), Guatemala (74 percent), and Honduras (70 percent).

Distributions among states, 2007 vs 2000:

State: 2007 illiegal pop, 2000 illegal pop, % of total 2007, % of total 2000, % annual change, ave annual increase

California: 2,840,000, 2,510,000, 24, 30, 13 50,000
Texas 1,710,000, 1,090,000, 14, 13, 57, 90,000
Florida 960,000, 800,000, 8, 9, 20, 20,000
New York 640,000, 540,000, 5, 6, 19, 10,000
Illinois 560,000, 440,000, 5, 5, 29, 20,000
Arizona 530,000, 330,000, 5, 4, 62, 30,000
Georgia 490,000, 220,000, 4, 3, 120, 40,000
New Jersey 470,000, 350,000, 4, 4, 32, 20,000
North Carolina 380,000, 260,000, 3, 3, 45, 20,000
Washington 260,000, 170,000, 2, 2, 53, 10,000
Other states 2,940,000, 1,750,000, 25, 21, 68, 170,000

August 13, 2008

Immigrants create environmental pollution ???

The Center for Immigration Studies suggests we should send immigrants back in order to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. The anti-immigration organization arrived at this weird moment of twisted thinking this way. Immigrants are largely from low income countries (read: Mexico) where COs emission is one quarter that of the U.S. Hence, CIS says, when they come here they about quadruple their emissions. Below is CIS’s release of its “new study.” You will see towards the end that they acknowledge how their argument might be disputed.

The press release:

Study: Immigration to U.S. Increases
Global Greenhouse-Gas Emissions

WASHINGTON (August 13, 2008) — The findings of a new study indicate that future levels of immigration will have a significant impact on efforts to reduce global CO2 emissions. Immigration to the United States significantly increases world-wide CO2 emissions because it transfers population from lower-polluting parts of the world to the United States, which is a higher-polluting country.

The report, entitled “Immigration to the United States and World-Wide Greenhouse Gas Emissions,” is available at and a video regarding the report is available at

Among the findings:

• The estimated CO2 emissions of the average immigrant (legal or illegal) in the United States are 18 percent less than those of the average native-born American.

• However, immigrants in the United States produce an estimated four times more CO2 in the United States as they would have in their countries of origin.

• U.S. immigrants produce an estimated 637 million metric tons of CO2 emissions annually – equal to Great Britain and Sweden combined.

• The estimated 637 million tons of CO2 U.S. immigrants produce annually is 482 million tons more than they would have produced had they remained in their home countries.

• If the 482-million-ton increase in global CO2 emissions caused by immigration to the United States were a separate country, it would rank 10th in the world in emissions.

• The impact of immigration to the United States on global emissions is equal to approximately 5 percent of the increase in annual world-wide CO2 emissions since 1980.

• Of the CO2 emissions caused by immigrants, 83 percent are estimated to come from legal immigrants and 17 percent from illegal immigrants.

• Legal immigrants have a much larger impact because they are more numerous than illegal immigrants and because they have higher incomes, and thus higher emissions.

• The above figures do not include the impact of children born to immigrants in the United States. If they were included, the impact would be much higher.

• Assuming no change in U.S. immigration policy, 30 million new legal and illegal immigrants are expected to settle in the United States in the next 20 years.

• In recent years, increases in U.S. CO2 emissions have been driven entirely by population increases, as per capita emissions have stabilized.

Discussion: Some may be tempted to see this analysis as “blaming immigrants” for what are really America’s failures. It is certainly reasonable to argue that Americans could do more to reduce per capita emissions. And it is certainly not our intention to imply that immigrants are particularly responsible for global warming. As we report in this study, the average immigrant produces somewhat less CO2 than the average native-born American. But to simply dismiss the large role that continuing high levels of immigration play in increasing U.S. (and thus worldwide) CO2 emissions is not only intellectually dishonest, it is also counterproductive. One must acknowledge a problem before a solution can be found.

One can still argue for high levels of immigration for any number of other reasons. However, one cannot make the argument for high immigration without at least understanding what it means for global efforts to reduce the emission of greenhouse gases. Some involved in the global-warming issue have recognized immigration’s importance. For instance, chief U.S. climate negotiator and special representative for the United States, Harlan Watson, has acknowledged that high immigration to the United States is thwarting efforts to reduce the nation’s emissions. “It’s simple arithmetic,” said Watson. “If you look at mid-century, Europe will be at 1990 levels of population while ours will be nearing 60 percent above 1990 levels. So population does matter.” This research confirms Watson’s observation.

August 2, 2008

Number of illegal residents way down?

A study by the Center for Immigration Studies says that there has been an 11% drop in the number of illegal residents in the past year. “CIS research director Steven Camarota and demographer Karen Jensenius write that the illegal population, which they now estimate at 11.2 million, dropped 1.3 million since last August from 12.5 million. If the decline continued for another five years, they write, that population would fall by one half.”

This seems to me too huge a change that could be accounted for in one year, especially without strong confirmation from other ways of estimating the illegal population.

The Center for Immigration Studies has taken a hard stand against illegal immigration.

the article in full:

A report released yesterday by a nonprofit research group estimates that the number of illegal aliens in the United States dropped significantly in the past year after a steep increase.

Continue reading "Number of illegal residents way down?" »

July 1, 2008

The link to the complete New Bedford Standard-Times series

Following up on my posting earlier today, I found the link to all the articles in the series on immigrant labor in New Bedford and surrounding Southeastern Massachusetts. Here it is.

This is possibly the best depiction of the lives of recent low income immigrants published by an American newspaper.

High quality profile of immigrant labor in one city

The New Bedford, MA, Standard-Times should get an award for its series on immigrant labor (legal and illegal) starting this week. Go here for the series (the website is called “South Coast today”). New Bedford was the site of one of the early ICE raids on March 6, 2007. Thanks to Shuya Ohno of the Massachusetts Immigrant & Refugee Advocacy Coalition for alerting me to the series.

Following are what the reporters learned in preparing the series:

What we learned in our investigation

A nearly two-year-long Standard-Times investigation of legal and illegal immigration from Central America found that:

— Violent crime, low wages and a lack of jobs have driven as many as 8,000 Central Americans to migrate to New Bedford.

— U.S. wages sent home to Guatemala are lifting families out of poverty, but also contributing to drug use and gang activity on the island.

— Many Central American immigrants, documented or not, obtain jobs through temporary agencies on the New Bedford waterfront and the conditions they work under don’t match what most American workers enjoy.

— The everyday lives of New Bedford’s illegal immigrants are dominated by a constant fear of being caught by immigration officials.

— Illegal immigrants who are deported back home to Guatemala are at high risk for depression and alcoholism.

— Temporary agencies have taken over much of the hiring for New Bedford fish houses and light manufacturing, often employing illegal immigrants in an off-the-books, cash economy in the recent past.

— A Taunton employment agency defrauded the federal and state governments, as well as worker’s compensation insurance companies, of millions of dollars in taxes, unemployment insurance contributions and worker’s compensation insurance compensation related to business in New Bedford, particularly on the waterfront.

— Some immigrant workers say they are forced to work overtime without being paid time-and-half. In two cases, a well-respected seafood processing plant agreed as part of a court settlement to pay Central American immigrants thousands in overtime claims.

— Guatemalan Mayans and some Latino immigrants claim they have been singled out for discrimination by employers. They claim they have been given the worst jobs within their seafood houses and factories, the least benefits and working conditions, and laid off before they can accrue better wages or vacations.

— Contrary to popular belief, most immigrants who came to New Bedford in the early 20th century faced no restrictions on legal immigration. Many Portuguese immigrants came to the U.S. on tourist visas and simply stayed to work afterwards.

— Religion — both Catholic and evangelical — plays a strong role in the lives of many of today’s immigrants, just as it did for past immigrant groups.

— A backlash among Americans — many of them immigrants or their children or grandchildren believe that new immigrants are undermining American wages and working conditions, and new immigrants are not obeying the law.

— The challenge of educating immigrant children, always a factor in the cities of the SouthCoast, becomes even greater in an age of mandatory testing and the ever-increasing expectations of No Child Left Behind.

— New Bedford’s new immigrants remain vulnerable to crime, raising concerns that Central American gangs will gain a toehold in the city.

— Some Central American immigrants are living out the American Dream in New Bedford.

— Central American entrepreneurs could revitalize local neighborhoods by opening restaurants, markets and other businesses that cater to new immigrants.

June 20, 2008

EU toughens stance on illegal immigrants

The New York Times reported on 6/19/08 that “ European Union lawmakers voted Wednesday to allow undocumented migrants to be held in detention centers for up to 18 months and banned from European Union territory for five years.

Criticized by groups like Amnesty International as “severely flawed” and an erosion of human rights standards, the so-called return directive was passed in the European Parliament here by a 369-to-197 vote, with 106 legislators abstaining.

Amnesty International said it was “deeply disappointed” by the outcome of the vote, and appealed to member states currently applying higher standards not to use the directive as a pretext for lowering them.

The Europe Union has freedom of movement among 25 of its 27 member states but no overarching policy on immigration. Supporters see the new measure as a means to unify a patchwork of systems governing treatment of migrants who overstay their visas or who, in far lesser numbers, slip clandestinely across borders.”

Previously, the EU did not have a uniform set of laws to govern how illegal immigrants are to be treated.

The article in full:

Continue reading "EU toughens stance on illegal immigrants" »

June 6, 2008

Burmese workers replace illegal meat processing workers

When the Swift beef processing plant in tiny Cactus, TX, was raided in late 2006 (I have posted on this) hundreds of illegal Hispanic workers were carted off. For months the plant was barely operational. No workers in its rural surroundings. Then it started to bus workers in from Amarillo, 60 miles away. It recruited two Burmese workers from Amarillo. Then Swift tapped into the Burmese community in Houston, relocating them to Cactus. State officials leaned on Swift to provide adequate housing. 100 Burmese kids started school.

This story occurred because Swift like other meat processors located large plants in rural towns to lower wage scales – and to draw in immigrant labor, legal or illegal.

The Wall Street Journal (subscription required) reported today on how the Burmese got to Cactus.

The article in full:

Continue reading "Burmese workers replace illegal meat processing workers" »

June 5, 2008

14% of Mexicans work in the U.S.

Mexican workers who work in the U.S.

I was asked the other day about the source of the estimate that a large share of Mexico’s labor force works in the U.S. The source in the Migration Policy Institute, in a publication dated November 2006. “MPI estimates that 9.4 percent of all persons born in Mexico lived in the United States in 2005. In the same year, 14 percent of Mexican workers were engaged in the US labor force compared to 2.5 percent of Canadian workers.”

The report goes on: “According to Inter-American Development Bank estimates, remittances sent in 2001 by Mexicans working abroad totaled $8.9 billion. By 2005, this amount more than doubled and reached more than $20 billion, a lion’s share of which came from the United States. Mexico remains the largest recipient of remittances among all Latin American countries, accounting for nearly 40 percent of the total $53.6 billion sent to Latin America. In 2005, remittances equaled to 2.8 percent of Mexico’s Gross Domestic Product (GDP).”

Also go to my post, “Why poorer educated Mexican men come work in the United States.”

May 30, 2008

One of out six workers is an immigrant

Recently I posted about the Migration Policy Institute's large database on immigration in the U.S. On the right column you can find this posting listed as "a mass of...". I am excerpting here the MPI's summary for the country as a whole. At the website, you can drill down to find data for each state.

* Immigrants were one in six US workers employed in the civilian labor force (age 16 and older) in 2006, one in eight in 2000, and less than one in 10 in 1990. In California, immigrants comprised more than a third of the state's employed workforce in 2006 compared to less than 2 percent in Montana.

* More than one-fifth of the 22 million immigrant workers in the United States are recent arrivals (i.e., those who arrived between 2000 and 2006);

* More than half of all immigrant workers in the US civilian labor force in 2006 were born in Latin America and slightly more than a quarter were from Asia. The rest originated in Europe (11.8 percent), Africa (3.8 percent), Northern America (2.0 percent), and Oceania/other (0.4 percent).

* In 2006, 45.7 percent of US total civilian employed workers (native and immigrant) were limited English proficient (LEP). The share of the labor force that was LEP was higher in Nebraska (56.7 percent) and Arkansas (54.7 percent) and much lower in Maine (19.9 percent) and Montana (17.6 percent).

May 20, 2008

Second generation immigrants doing well – study in New York City

This is the message from a study about New York City chidren of immigrants, as reported in the NY Times. The study shows how assimilation into the education system and labor market varies by country of origin. “A decade-long study of adult children of immigrants to the New York region has concluded that they are rapidly entering the mainstream and doing better than their parents in terms of education and earnings — even outperforming native-born Americans in many cases.”

The study was published as “Inheriting the City: The Children of Immigrants Come of Age,” by Harvard University Press.

The data are old – based on survey work done and followed up on between 1999 and 2003. The following groups were studied: Dominicans, Chinese, Russian Jews, South Americans (consisting of Colombians, Ecuadoreans and Peruvians) and West Indians. The Chinese children are doing best and the Dominican children from the West Indies are doing worse.

The article in full:

Continue reading "Second generation immigrants doing well – study in New York City" »

Canada recruiting Mexican labor

It is more than interesting – it is engrossing – to compare the policies of the U.S. and Canada with respect to Hispanic immigrant worker policy. I have posted on this before. This article describes how Canada is coping with labor shortages arising out of a booming economy.

It reports that “A Canada-Mexico working group on labour mobility was announced by Foreign Affairs Minister Maxime Bernier and his Mexican counterpart, Patricia Espinosa, after the North American Leaders' Summit in Montebello, Que., last August. As the visiting workers program is expanded, the group will deal with developing a certification process that provides Canadian employers with the assurance that a bricklayer or welder will meet their specifications, as well as defining the length of temporary stays.

Currently, more than 100 National Employment Service offices throughout Mexico recruit workers and maintain a data bank, vetting applicants for appropriate work experience. They then match their data with requests from employers across Canada, funnelled through the Human Resources and Social Development ministry. The number of potential job placements in Canada can be as high as 800,000, said Jorge Rodriguez, Chief of International Affairs at Mexico's Labour Secretariat.”

The article in full:

Continue reading "Canada recruiting Mexican labor" »

May 12, 2008

Canada needs more immigrant workers

Canada is one of several countries, such as Australia, with an aggressive strategy to woo immigrants in order to grow jobs and the economy. A Canadian news service reports that “Canada is heading for a problem seems unavoidable. In the last 50 years, Canada's workforce grew by 200 per cent. That growth was responsible for raising standards of living and creating the public and private wealth the country now enjoys. But government forecasters say that, without some radical changes, the workforce will only grow by 11 per cent in the next 50 years - and that figure includes the effects of current levels of immigration.

'Our demographics are working against us,' Human Resources Minister Monte Solberg said in a speech Monday to the Canadian Building and Construction Trades' Legislative Conference. 'Baby boomers are set to retire and our low birth rate means demand for workers will soon outstrip supply.”

* British Columbia will be short 350,000 workers over the next 12 years.

* Alberta will require 100,000 workers over the next 10 years.

* Ontario will need 560,000 more workers by 2030.

* Quebec will have 1.3 million job openings by 2016.

The article in full:

Canada's top problem is filling labour shortage
By David Akin
The Canwest News Service (Canada), May 5, 2008

Ottawa -- When Prime Minister Stephen Harper gathered the country's premiers at 24 Sussex Drive last fall, he wanted them to focus on what he saw as the country's No. 1 economic problem: within a decade or two, there simply will not be enough workers in the country.

Although recent headlines about thousands of layoffs in Canada's struggling manufacturing sector may suggest otherwise, Harper and his cabinet are struggling to find ways to boost training programs and increase immigration to find more workers to avoid what some Conservative strategists say is an 'economic time bomb.'

Continue reading "Canada needs more immigrant workers" »

May 7, 2008

A mass of data about immigrants in the U.S.

the Migration Information Institute issued this FAQ document last year, in October 2007. It is extensive. Go through all of it to find what you are looking for. It covers demographics, workforce and geographic distribution, countries of origin, unionization,
immigration status, deportations, naturalization, etc.

Its website has a motherlode of studies about immigration.

By Aaron Terrazas, Jeanne Batalova, Velma Fan, of the Migration Policy Institute

Continue reading "A mass of data about immigrants in the U.S." »

May 6, 2008

Immigration Mexican American blog

Go here to read a very active blog run by Dee Perez-Scott, a Mexican-American married to an Irish American for twenty years, and a long term employee of a major corporation. She became active after witnessing the anti-immigration surge in the last few years. Her current posting is about the 66 ICE detainees who have died while in custody, as reported in the NY Times.

April 13, 2008

CBS News profile of illegal immigrants

Last week CBS Evening News ran a four part series on illegal immigration. Here is a synopsis of each episode, as provided by CBS News, and without comment by me: children of illegal immigrants; building a fence on the Mexican border; how farming is impacted by the crackdown, and the Arizona crackdown on employers. Much of the content comes from Texas or Arizona. Go the hyperlinks for the complete transcripts.

PART ONE 4/7 - Born in America

We profile and witness an Mexican woman giving birth in America, after crossing the border into Texas to guarantee her son American citizenship with its privileges, including health care and education. One of 300,000 children of illegal immigrants born in America every year. Costing taxpayers an estimated $1.1 billion in healthcare alone. Frustrated by the Congress' failure to pass immigration reform, we'll meet a congressman part of a movement to challenge the 14th amendment guaranteeing US citizenship for any child born in America. Forty percent of the children born at McAllen Texas Medical Center, near the border, nearly 2,400 last year, were the babies of illegal immigrants. Byron Pitts reports.

PART TWO 4/8 - The Border

The only immigration reform Congress managed to pass was funding to build a fence along the Mexican border. It's been a frustrating and expensive experiment. Plans call for only 670 miles of the 2000 mile border to be fenced, and even that limited construction could cost $50 billion when you consider a lifetime of maintenance. Yes, apprehensions are down, meaning fewer illegals are trying to cross into America. But Whitaker will show us how many ways people are getting around the vast are the gaps. The Administration just announced it will bypass state laws impeding the completion of this fence by the end of the year. But the fact is, if you build it, people will find a way around it. Bill Whitaker reports.

PART THREE 4/9 - The Farmer

After years of luring immigrant workers north with farm jobs, there's now movement across the border the other way. We'll meet an American farmer who so far has had to relocate 25 percent of his operation in Mexico because he can't find workers. The Western Growers Association says they need 30 percent more workers than they're able to hire. But a bill to let more farm workers in legally died in Congress last year. And so, we'll see our American farmer harvesting his lettuce crop south of the border, in Mexico. John Blackstone reports.

PART FOUR 4/10 - The Arizona Crackdown

Last year many states and communities took it upon themselves to do what Congress failed to do. And the toughest laws in the nation took effect in January in Arizona. If a business owner knowingly hires an illegal immigrant, they won't simply be fined...they'll be shut down. And so we see bus loads of immigrants leaving Phoenix. Schools report fewer students. Businesses are closing down. The owner of a burger chain tells Tracy he's had to hire two people and spend $500,000 just to comply with new requirements and he's scrapped plans to open 40 new stores, because it's just too much work. 15 other states are considering laws like Arizona's.

March 3, 2008

Immigrant votes in 2008

The Migration Policy Institute has analyzed the growth of the foreign born population and estimated the number of foreign born among projected 2008 voters. Here are data from three states:

California – foreign born grew as percentage of total population from 26.2% in 2000 to 27.2% in 2006. Hispanic voters (foreign and domestic born) are expected to be 16.8% of the vote. Since Hispanics comprise 55% of foreign born, the total foreign born voter block will certainly be much higher.

Texas - percentage of total population foreign born grew form 13.9% in 2000 to 15.9% in 2006. Hispanics are expected to be 18% of projected voters. Hispanics or Latinos make up 74% of the foreign born.

Ohio, foreign born share of total population grew from 3.0% in 2000 to 3.6% in 2006. Foreign born voters are projected to be 1.6% of all voters.

February 13, 2008

U.S. population projections: huge impact of immigration

The Pew Research Center issued a report this week which projects the nation’s population to 2050. Our country will become increasingly immigrant-based and Hispanics will approach 30% of the population. “If current trends continue, the population of the United States will rise to 438 million in 2050, from 296 million in 2005, and 82% of the increase will be due to immigrants arriving from 2005 to 2050 and their U.S.-born descendants. Of the 117 million people added to the population during this period due to the effect of new immigration, 67 million will be the immigrants themselves and 50 million will be their U.S.-born children or grandchildren.”

Other key projections:

* Nearly one in five Americans (19%) will be an immigrant in 2050, compared with one in eight (12%) in 2005. By 2025, the immigrant, or foreign-born, share of the population will surpass the peak during the last great wave of immigration a century ago.
* The major role of immigration in national growth builds on the pattern of recent decades, during which immigrants and their U.S.-born children and grandchildren accounted for most population increase. Immigration's importance increased as the average number of births to U.S.-born women dropped sharply before leveling off.
* The Latino population, already the nation's largest minority group, will triple in size and will account for most of the nation's population growth from 2005 through 2050. Hispanics will make up 29% of the U.S. population in 2050, compared with 14% in 2005.
* Births in the United States will play a growing role in Hispanic and Asian population growth; as a result, a smaller proportion of both groups will be foreign-born in 2050 than is the case now.
* The non-Hispanic white population will increase more slowly than other racial and ethnic groups; whites will become a minority (47%) by 2050.
* The nation's elderly population will more than double in size from 2005 through 2050, as the baby boom generation enters the traditional retirement years. The number of working-age Americans and children will grow more slowly than the elderly population, and will shrink as a share of the total population.

The Center's report includes an analysis of the nation's future "dependency ratio"--the number of children and elderly compared with the number of working-age Americans. There were 59 children and elderly people per 100 adults of working age in 2005. That will rise to 72 dependents per 100 adults of working age in 2050.

The report also offers two alternative population projections, one based on lower immigration assumptions and one based on higher immigration assumptions.

February 12, 2008

Airzona's economy drying up?

The NY Times reported today on the combined effects of economic slowdown and anti- illegal immigrant legislation in Arizona. Whatever the cause, a lot of people are leaving the state. "In the fourth quarter of 2007 the apartment-vacancy rate in metropolitan Phoenix rose to 11.2 percent from 9 percent in the same quarter of 2006, with much higher rates of 15 percent or more in heavily Latino neighborhoods."

The article in full:

Published: February 12, 2008

PHOENIX — The signs of flight among Latino immigrants here are multiple: Families moving out of apartment complexes, schools reporting enrollment drops, business owners complaining about fewer clients.

While it is too early to know for certain, a consensus is developing among economists, business people and immigration groups that the weakening economy coupled with recent curbs on illegal immigration are steering Hispanic immigrants out of the state.

The Arizona economy, heavily dependent on growth and a Latino work force, has been slowing for months. Meanwhile, the state has enacted one of the country’s toughest laws to punish employers who hire illegal immigrants, and the county sheriff here in Phoenix has been enforcing federal immigration laws by rounding up people living here illegally.

“It is very difficult to separate the economic reality in Arizona from the effects of the laws because the economy is tanking and construction is drying up,” said Frank Pierson, lead organizer of the Arizona Interfaith Network, which advocates for immigrants’ rights and other causes. But the combination of factors creates “ a disincentive to stay in the state.”

Continue reading "Airzona's economy drying up?" »

February 1, 2008

States where the Hispanic vote is most important

Here is a fact sheet from the Pew Hispanic Center: Hispanics in the 2008 Election-- The Hispanics in the 2008 Election fact sheets contain data on the size and social and economic characteristics of the Hispanic and non-Hispanic eligible voter populations. These fact sheets are based on the Center's tabulations of the Census Bureau's 2006 American Community Survey. The eight fact sheets include those states that will be holding primaries or caucuses on "Super Tuesday" and that have a relatively high concentration of Latino voters: Arizona, California, Colorado, Illinois, Massachusetts, New Jersey, New Mexico and New York.

Arizona's Hispanic population is the sixth-largest in the nation. Nearly 1.8 million Hispanics reside in Arizona, 4% of all Hispanics in the United States. There are 673,000 eligible Hispanic voters in Arizona, 4% of all U.S. Hispanic eligible voters.

California's Hispanic population is the largest of any state in the nation. More than 13 million Hispanics reside in California, 30% of all Hispanics in the United States. There are over 5 million eligible Hispanic voters in California, 28% of all U.S. Hispanic eligible voters.

Colorado's Hispanic population is eighth-largest in the nation. More than 927,000 Hispanics reside in Colorado, 2% of all Hispanics in the United States. There are over 404,000 eligible Hispanic voters in Colorado, 2% of all U.S. Hispanic eligible voters.

Illinois's Hispanic population is the fifth-largest in the nation. Nearly 1.9 million Hispanics reside in Illinois, 4% of all Hispanics in the United States. There are over 708,000 eligible Hispanic voters in Illinois, 4% of all U.S. Hispanic eligible voters.

Massachusetts's Hispanic population is the fifteenth-largest in the nation. More than 509,000 Hispanics reside in Massachusetts, 1% of all Hispanics in the United States. There are 246,000 eligible Hispanic voters in Massachusetts, 1% of all U.S. Hispanic eligible voters.

New Jersey
New Jersey's Hispanic population is the seventh-largest in the nation. More than 1.4 million Hispanics reside in New Jersey, 3% of all Hispanics in the United States. There are 588,000 eligible Hispanic voters in New Jersey, 3% of all U.S. Hispanic eligible voters.

New Mexico
New Mexico's Hispanic population is the ninth-largest in the nation. More than 874,000 Hispanics reside in New Mexico, 2% of all Hispanics in the United States. There are 501,000 eligible Hispanic voters in New Mexico, 3% of all U.S. Hispanic eligible voters.

New York
New York's Hispanic population is the fourth-largest in the nation. More than 3 million Hispanics reside in New York, 7% of all Hispanics in the United States. There are 1.5 million eligible Hispanic voters in New York, 8% of all U.S. Hispanic eligible voters.

January 28, 2008

correction: foreign born labor is 17%, not 30%

The Migration Policy Institute issued a correction a few minutes ago. Here is the correct information:

Foreign-born adults of working age (18 to 54) accounted for nearly 17 percent of all working-age adults at the national level, but they represented 36 percent of working-age adults in California, about 26 percent in New Jersey and Nevada, and less than 2 percent in West Virginia.

Also another correction: Foreign-born children under age 18 accounted for more than 4 percent of all children in the United States. This share was higher in California (7 percent) but much lower in Mississippi (0.6 percent).

30% of working age adults are foreign born

The Migration Policy Institute has put out a fact sheet on immigrants. One item: “Foreign-born adults of working age (18 to 54) accounted for 30% of all working-age adults at the national level.” They make up 62% in California.


* One in eight persons residing in the United States in 2006 was foreign born. At the state level, the share of the foreign born in the state population ranged from a high of one in four in California to a low of one in 83 in West Virginia in 2006.

* Of the 37.5 million foreign born, a quarter arrived in 2000 or later.

* Individuals born in Latin America accounted for 54 percent of all foreign born compared to 44 percent in 1990. The share of European born dropped from 23 percent in 1990 to 13 percent in 2006 while the share of Asian born remained the same (26 percent).

* Foreign-born children under age 17 accounted for nearly 7 percent of all children in the United States. This share was higher in California (11 percent) but much lower in Mississippi (0.9 percent).

* Foreign-born adults of working age (18 to 54) accounted for 30 percent of all working-age adults at the national level, but they represented 62 percent of working-age adults in California, 48 percent in Nevada and New York, and less than 5 percent in Montana and West Virginia.

* In the United States, 48 percent of the foreign born reported Hispanic or Latino origin, compared to 10 percent of the native born.

November 29, 2007

“Legal, Illegal Immigrant Numbers at Record Highs”

The Center for Immigration Studies has summarized some key immigration trends in a release made today. Among the findings, “Since 2000, 10.3 million immigrants have arrived — the highest seven-year period of immigration in U.S. history. More than half of post-2000 arrivals (5.6 million) are estimated to be illegal aliens.” Consistent with CIS’s approach to immigration, this report tends of focus on the negative: low educational status, use of welfare, etc. But is it worth reviewing.

The release:

The report, “Immigrants in the United States, 2007: A Profile of America’s Foreign-Born Population,” is online at

Among the report’s findings:

# The immigrant population (legal and illegal) reached a record of 37.9 million in 2007.

# Immigrants account for one in eight U.S. residents, the highest level in 80 years.

# Overall, nearly one in three immigrants is an illegal alien. Half of Mexican and Central American immigrants and one-third of South American immigrants are illegal.

# Since 2000, 10.3 million immigrants have arrived — the highest seven-year period of immigration in U.S. history. More than half of post-2000 arrivals (5.6 million) are estimated to be illegal aliens.

# Of adult immigrants, 31 percent have not completed high school, compared to 8 percent of natives. The share of immigrants and natives with a college degree is about the same.

# 33 percent of immigrant-headed households use at least one welfare program, compared to 19 percent for native households. Among households headed by immigrants from Mexico, the largest single group, 51 percent use at least one welfare program.

# The poverty rate for immigrants and their U.S.-born children (under 18) is 17 percent, nearly 50 percent higher than the rate for natives and their children.

# 34 percent of immigrants lack health insurance, compared to 13 percent of natives. Immigrants and their U.S.-born children account for 71 percent of the increase in the uninsured since 1989.

# The primary reason for the high rates of immigrant poverty, lack of health insurance, and welfare use is their low education levels, not their legal status or an unwillingness to work.

# Of immigrant households, 82 percent have at least one worker, compared to 73 percent of native households.

# Immigrants make significant progress over time. But even those who have been here for 20 years are more likely to be in poverty, lack insurance, or use welfare than are natives.

# There is a worker present in 78 percent of immigrant households using at least one welfare program.

# Immigration accounts for virtually all of the national increase in public school enrollment over the last two decades. In 2007, there were 10.8 million school-age children from immigrant families in the United States.

# Immigrants and natives have similar rates of entrepreneurship — 13 percent of natives and 11 percent of immigrants are self-employed.

# Recent immigration has had no significant impact on the nation’s age structure. Without the 10.3 million post-2000 immigrants, the average age in America would be virtually unchanged at 36.5 years.

# Detailed information is provided for Texas, California, Arizona, Massachusetts, Colorado, Georgia, North Carolina, Washington, Florida, Illinois, Nevada, New Jersey, Virginia, and Maryland.

Data Source: The Current Population Survey provides the data for the study. It was collected by the Census Bureau in March 2007 and has not been fully analyzed until now. There is agreement among policy experts, including the Department of Homeland Security, that roughly 90 percent of illegal immigrants respond to Census Bureau surveys of this kind. This allows for separate estimates of the size and characteristics of the illegal immigrant population.

For more information, contact the author of the report, Steven Camarota, the Director of Research at the Center for Immigration Studies, at (202) 466-8185 or .

October 4, 2007

U.S. Immigrant worker figures in a nutshell

Drawn from the archives on

First, the 30,000 foot overview. The U.S. is premier among major countries in scale of immigrant activity. Some 37.5 million residents, or 12%, were born outside the country. World wide there are 3% of the world population living in a country other than their birth country. Almost one in five residents speak a language other than English at home. The number of cities in world with at least one million foreign born residents is 20. Eight of these are in the United States: Chicago, Dallas, Houston, Los Angeles, Miami, New York, San Francisco, and Washington DC. In contrast number of these cities in India and China is zero.

Second, the demand for immigrant labor in the United States. Let’s look at manual jobs.
MIT professor David Autor projects that mental and manual jobs involving a level of irregularity in decision making and face to face servicing are growing. This concept explains why some manual jobs are expected to grow in the future along with the growth of high end mental jobs. Low skilled immigrant labor fills many of these manual jobs. About a quarter of residential construction workers and landscaping workers are undocumented workers alone; on top of that one needs to add documented immigrant workers.

Let’s look at skilled jobs. Fully one half of computer systems engineering jobs in America are filled by foreign born workers. Indians alone own 50% of all economy hotels in the U.S. Ten percent of doctors are foreign born, of these close to half are from India. There are 40,000 Indian physicians in the U.S, or about 4% of all doctors. The nursing profession is 11% foreign born.

Some other economies export a huge share of their workforce overseas and to the U.S. and this reflects major development in the American economy resulting in massive demand for low skilled labor. Sixteen percent of the Mexican workforce is working in the U.S. In the 1980s, Hispanic work immigration (documented and undocumented) was concentrated in the agricultural sector. In the 1990s, the concentration was in meat processing, as American firms located often large plants in rural areas (Kansas, hogs, North Carolina, chickens, etc). During this decade labor demand turned urban including residential construction.

We turn to how foreign workers get into the U.S. The number of persons (adults, children, retirees) formally admitted into the U.S. each year for permanent residence (which can lead to citizenship) is roughly about 1 million. Perhaps 400,000 of these new resident are working age adults.

There are in addition temporary work permits. The number of new H-1B temporary professional workers formally admitted each year (i.e. Bill Gate's programmers) is about 95,000 officially but due to Byzantine rules probably is more. The number of new H-2A temporary agricultural workers (special agricultural workers) admitted each year is about 200,000. And about 50,000 workers are admitted each year only a plethora of other work permit programs, ranging from university professors to star athletes. All told, these documented new workers each year are perhaps 750,000.

Undocumented worker growth is about 350,000 a year, mostly from Latin America but also from eastern Europe and elsewhere. Compare this with the roughly 750,000 undocumented workers which arrive. Now, many of these people may and do return permanently or temporarily to their homeland – some are on temporary visas -- but probably the lion’s share stay here. Of the 35 million foreign born, roughly 15 million may be in the workforce. The Pew Hispanic Center estimated in 2005 that the number of undocumented workers is 7.2 million. Thus, close to half of foreign born workers are undocumented.

Undocumented workers fills about half the jobs in America that meet these criteria: 1. Less than a high school education is required, and 2. the jobs are not in industries which enforce worker documentation requirements aggressively (such as healthcare, banking, and local government).

Per the Pew Hispanic Center, 55-60% of these undocumented workers are in formal employment and are paying social security taxes. About 3 million of the 7.2 million illegal workers are in occupations in which undocumented workers account for at least 15% of total employment in that occupation. These include construction labor (25%), cooks (20%). Maids and housecleaners (22%), and grounds maintenance (25%). among roofers, 29% of the total workforce is estimated to be undocumented workers.

What is the economic impact of illegal population in U.S.? A Texas study says that illegal household payments of consumer and property taxes (via rent or home ownership) exceeds by about 30% the taxpayer burden for education, healthcare, and incarceration.
Do illegal workers displace American workers? Some say yes, others say no. It appears that undocumented worker compensation is about 30% below what it would be with 100% worker protections afforded to Americans.

September 16, 2007

Immigrant nation – new census data from 2006

As reported 9/12 in the Washington Post, Nearly one in five people living in the United States speaks a language at home other than English, according to new Census data that illustrate the wide-ranging effects of immigration. California led the nation in immigrants, at 27 percent of the state's population, and in people who spoke a foreign language at home, at 43 percent. In this 2006 census version called the annual American Community Survey, there were 37.5 million foreign born in the U.S.

The full article:

Washington (AP) -- Nearly one in five people living in the United States speaks a language at home other than English, according to new Census data that illustrate the wide-ranging effects of immigration.

The number of immigrants nationwide reached an all-time high of 37.5 million in 2006, affecting incomes and education levels in many cities across the country. But the effects have not been uniform.

In most states, immigrants have added to the number of those lacking a high-school diploma, with almost half of those from Latin America falling into that category.

However, at the other end of the education spectrum, Asian immigrants are raising average education levels in many states, with nearly half of them holding at least a bachelor's degree.

'There is no one-size-fits-all policy that you could apply for all immigrant groups,' said Mark Mather of the Population Reference Bureau. 'I think most of the attention has been on low-skilled workers coming from Mexico. But we have 10 million immigrants from Asia, a number that's growing.'

Continue reading "Immigrant nation – new census data from 2006" »

March 23, 2007

Son of illegal Mexican immigrants makes good

I have already posted on how one quarter of technology start-ups in the United States involved foreign born entrepreneurs. ran a story in the current issue about the son of illegal migrant workers from northern Mexico who eventually secured green cards as sponsored agricultural workers. Diago Borrego founded Networkcar in 1999 and currently serves as the firm's director of engineering.

Networkcar designs and markets software that provides wireless vehicle management to fleet managers. The installed software monitors vehicles' locations and diagnostics wirelessly, reporting up-to-the-minute status via the Internet.

The article traces his life from birth in an El Paso indigent clinic up to the present. Thanks to Valerie Chereskin for alerting me to this article.

March 9, 2007

Regional sources of Mexican workers in U.S.

The Atlantic Monthly (subscription required) has an article in its April 2007 edition called “The Mexican Connection.” I have posted on this before (search for “remittance”). The main contribution of this article is to pinpoint the regional sources of many of U.S. based workers -- states immediately northwest of Mexico City: “ Five predominantly rural Mexican states—Guanajuato, Jalisco, Michoacán, San Luis Potosí, and Zacatecas—send a disproportionately large number of emigrants to the United States. Their links to the U.S. date back a century, to when American mining and railroad companies recruited workers from these regions to offset reductions in Chinese and Japanese immigration. Home to less than a third of Mexico’s population, they receive 44 percent of Mexico’s remittances.”

The Mexican Connection
by Matthew Quirk

Among the crumbling adobe shacks of rural Mexico, two-story California- style housing developments are rising. In the tiny city of Tlacolula, plots of land that sold for about $10,000 in 1994 now cost $60,000. Like the towns where they are going up, the new developments are partly empty. The home owners are among the many Mexican workers—nearly one in seven overall, and half the adult population of some communities, such as La Purísima and San Juan Mixtepec—who are in the United States. Typically working low-wage jobs, they send home much of their pay (41 percent on average, or $300 a month) to support families left behind and build a better life for their return.

Remittances to Mexico exceed $20 billion a year.[Actually $25B – PFR] By 2003, they had become the nation’s second-largest source of external finance, ahead of tourism and foreign investment and just behind oil exports. That same year, then-President Vicente Fox noted that the roughly 20 million Mexican-origin workers in America create a larger gross product than Mexico itself. [This cannot be a correct figures – it is too large. There may be 20 million total Mexican-born people in the U.S. including children. – PFR]

Worldwide, remittances have surpassed direct aid in volume, and international development institutions (along with the governments of many less- developed countries) have recently seized upon them as a key to economic growth in the global South. The United States is the largest source of remittances—Saudi Arabia, with its armies of serflike guest workers, is No. 2—and Mexico the largest recipient of U.S. funds.

Continue reading "Regional sources of Mexican workers in U.S." »

March 8, 2007

Two of three new construction jobs go to Hispanics

The Pew Hispanic Center released a factsheet that examines recent trends in the employment of Latino workers in the U.S. labor market and focuses specifically on the construction industry.

Hispanic workers landed two out of every three new construction jobs in 2006, according to the analysis. They benefited from strong employment growth in the industry even as the housing market endured a year-long slump. Indeed, the construction industry continues to be a key source of jobs for Hispanics and especially for those who are foreign born and recently arrived.

Hispanic employment increased by almost 1 million from 2005 to 2006. Even though Latinos account for only 13.6% of total employment, they accounted for 36.7% of the increase in employment. The comparatively high share of employment reflects demographic changes in the U.S. About 40% of the total increase in the working-age population (16 and older) in 2006 was Hispanic and of these three-fourths are foreign born Latino workers.

Foreign-born Latinos who arrived since 2000 were responsible for about 24% of the total increase in employment in the U.S. labor market last year. Estimates by the Pew Hispanic Center suggest that in recent years about two-thirds of the increase in the employment of recently-arrived Hispanic workers has been due to unauthorized migration.

The estimates in the fact sheet are derived from data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics and the Census Bureau. Most of the data is from the Current Population Survey, a monthly Census Bureau survey of approximately 60,000 households. Monthly data are combined to create larger sample sizes and to conduct the analysis on either an annual or quarterly basis. The analysis is for 2004-2006.

February 24, 2007

Wealth of statistics on illegal immigrants in the U.S.

This is a quick guide to postings I have made in the past. These and other postings are listed in the right hand column segment called “popular posts.” You will find even more information if you go to the hyperlinks in each of these postings.

Go here to find estimates of the number of illegal workers by state and their share of the state’s workforce. Data drawn in part from the Pew Hispanic Center.

Go here to find federal government estimates of illegal immigrants, by country of origin and by when they arrived in the U.S.

Go here to find recent research findings on the impact of all immigrant as well as illegal immigrant labor on native born American wages.

And here for types of work performed by illegal immigrants and other data on these workers, from the Pew Hispanic Center.

February 19, 2007

Robert Feenstra on the powerful dynamics linking U.S. and Mexican workforces

Technology advances proceed apace while America is outsourcing jobs to developing countries. These two forces combine to increase the level of migration in the world. Much of this migration is into the U.S. by far the biggest in-migration country in the world. The net effect of this cycle is to improve middle class lives in the U.S. but worsen work prospects for poorly educated Americans.

Robert Feenstra of U.C. at Davis, who has long been a student of economic productivity, made a presentation on “Globalization and its Impact on Labor.” He goes a long way to describing the overwhelming power of forces behind the growth of low wage immigrant labor (including illegal labor) in the United States.

The essence of Feenstra’s story, leavened with information he does not include, is this:

Manufacturing labor in both the U.S. and Mexico have not benefited in the past 10-15 years even while the service workforce has benefited, by capturing the lion’s share of increases in the compensation pie.

This is in part because manufacturing growth in Mexico, expected due to NAFTA, failed to take place except in isolated areas like along the American border (Manquiladora). Thus good manufacturing jobs were not available at anywhere near the numbers needed for the ocuntry's work population. In part, a disproportionate share of economic gains went to service, not manufacturing jobs. The manufacturing sector was also hurt by American and Chinese competition.

Relatively disadvantaged workers in both countries have been making hard decisions on where or if to work. With economic distances expanding between workforce segments, making catch-up less probable, choices narrow down to if and where to migrate.

Mexicans, especially those at the lower end of that country’s education scale, have little prospects of rewards in Mexico and have come to the U.S. to, in effect, make middle class life more comfortable for Americans. Poorly educated American workers have been withdrawing at increasing rates from the workforce, either into part time work, idleness or disability pensions.

Here in the style of Powerpoint bullets, is the story:

One, technology is concentrating economic rewards in the service sector workforce and leaving production (i.e. manufacturing) stagnant. This is happening in developed as well as developing countries – The U.S. as well as Mexico. In the U.S. service workforce relative wages compared to manufacturing wages grew strongly since the mid 1980s.

Two, production jobs in the U.S. are being off-shored and an increasing number of service jobs as well. The next effect is the increase the average compensation of better educated services workers – in both the U.S. AND in the countries providing the off-shored labor.

Three, this offshoring has been responsible for about 1% of the 2.5% – 4% annual productivity growth in the U.S. economy. This is a big deal.

Fourth, in Mexico manufacturing worker wages have not grown appreciatively with NAFTA, which was supposed to set off an economic boom. Feenstra does not discuss farm workers in Mexico, but one gets the impression that both farm and manufacturing wages in Mexico have lagged.

Fifth, there has been a huge transborder shift of workers at the lower end of the wage and education scale.

Mexican labor has moved into the U.S. just as the most vulnerable American workers have been withdrawing from the American workforce. Not addressed by Feenstra, the labor force participation of poorly educated blacks is very low.

Some 70% of the American workforce with less than 8 years of education are foreign born, and 22% of the workforce with 8 to 11 year’ education.

And American workers are heading out the door. The SSDI (disabled worker insurance program) of the U.S. has been growing – very sharply in the past few years. Those exiting the labor market for federal disability pensions are largely manufacturing workers with limited education. In 1995, there were 1.1 million SSDI awards made. In 2004, there were 2.2 million made.

The European Union has sought from the beginning to stem migration from poorer new members by systmatically suppprting infrastructure and manaufacturing growth in the new members.

See Feenstra here.

February 15, 2007

Skilled foreign workers – summary statistics

Now waves of immigrants are mostly not skilled workers. But foreign born workers have a huge share of some skilled job categories.

Thanks to Immigrant Voice for bringing to my attention these figures.

Skilled workers are a small minority of U.S. legal immigrants. Of the 940,000 legal immigrants recorded in 2004, only 16% were skilled employment-based immigrants. This means that 150,000 of the almost one million new legal immigrants (permanent or temporary) came on a skilled based authorization. About 40% of these skilled immigrants had advanced degrees, or 5 or more years of experience after a baccalaureate degree.

Per Immigrant Voice, the impact of these workers’ contributions to American competitiveness belies their small number, because they make up a large share of all workers in certain professions.

In 1996 17% of all scientists and engineers were foreign born. That rose to 24% in 2002. Among scientists and engineers with PhDs or professional degrees, 38% were foreign born in 1996 and 43% in 2002.

Go to Chpter 2, page 57 of the 2006 Economic Report of the President for more information.

February 14, 2007

How long do Mexican migrants work in the U.S.? 6 – 11 years

From the abstract of recent study by the Austin TX based research firm of Econone: In this paper we use data from the Mexican Migration Project (MMP) to estimate the number of years a Mexican born foreign worker could reasonably be expected to be employed or seeking employment in the U.S. labor market. We find, consistent with other studies of Mexican migrant workers, that the typical Mexican born worker who migrates to the U.S. to work does not spend their entire working life in the U.S. Our analysis shows the typical Mexican migrant can be expected to be active in the U.S. workforce between 6.1 and 11.1 years on average.

February 9, 2007

Tidbits from the first year of this blog

In passing into the second year of, I have compiled some notable entries from the first year -- Peter Rousmaniere

Relative role of U.S. in transborder migration

Number of cities in world with at least one million foreign born residents: 20
Number of these cities in the United States: 8
Number of these cities in India or China: zero
Size of foreign born population in the world today: 200 million out of 6.5 billion (3%)
Size of foreign born population in U.S. Today: 35 million out of 300 million (12%)

Relative role of China in intraborder migration

Number of internal migrants from rural to urban areas in China: 150 million out of total population of 1.2 billion.

Off-shoring of work and the polarization of the American workforce

MIT professor David Autor argues that highly routine mental and manual jobs are being outsourced overseas or eliminated by automation, but that mental and manual jobs involving a level of irregularity in decision making and face to face servicing are growing. This concept explains why some manual jobs are expected to grow in the future along with the growth of high end mental jobs.

Impact of all immigrant workers on American workforce

Share of new jobs 2002 – 2012 to be filled by an immigrant: one out of eight

Size of illegal workforce

Illegal workers in U.S. as of early 2006: about 7.3 million

Illegal workers as % of total U.S. workforce: 4.9%

Illegal workers as % of total U.S. workforce in jobs requiring less than high school degree and without strict documentation requirements: 9/7%

Where do illegal workers work?

Per the Pew Hispanic Center:

Some 55-60% of these undocumented workers are in formal employment and are paying social security taxes

About 3 million of the 7.2 million illegal workers are in occupations in which undocumented workers account for at least 15% of total employment in that occupation. These include construction labor (25%), cooks (20%). Maids and housecleaners (22%), and grounds maintenance (25%). among roofers, 29% of the total workforce is estimated to be undocumented workers.

One half of undocumented working men here are single. But a phenomenal 94% of undocumented men work compared to 83% for native Americans.

Economic impact of illegal population in U.S.

A Texas study says that illegal household payments of consumer and property taxes (via rent or home ownership) exceeds by about 30% the taxpayer burden for education, healthcare, and incarceration.

Do illegal workers displace American workers?

Some say yes, others say no.

It appears that illegal worker compensation is about 30% below what it would be with 100% worker protections afforded to Americans. Go here for a case study.

Waves of Hispanic work immigration since 1980s

1980s: agricultural workers, mostly on farms
1990s: meat processing workers, mostly in rural; towns
2000s: urban work including residential construction: in cities and suburbs

Employment of Indians in the U.S.

They own 20,000 hotels, or 50% of all economy hotels in the U.S.
There are 40,000 Indian physicians in the U.S, or about 4% of all doctors

Role of foreign born entrepreneurs in the U.S.

They are involved in one quarter of all technology start-ups.

Is there a nursing shortage?


Percentage of Philippine nurses working outside the Philippines


Foreign nurses in the U.S.

300,000, or about 11% of all nurses.

Mexican population in U.S.

Percentage of Mexican workforce that is working in the U.S.


Remittances from Mexicans in U.S. to Mexico

$25 billion in 2006

Total remittances from all parts of world to Latin America

$54 billion in 2005

Number of community-based immigrant worker centers

upwards of 200

Foreign day laborers in the U.S.

Estimated number on any particular day:

117,600 at 500 sites in the U.S.

Percentage who speak English very well:


Mexican Government guide for illegally entering the U.S.

I am just now getting around to posting this guide, here in English translation, and available in original comic book format here.

Guide for the Mexican Migrant

Distributed by the Mexican Ministry of Foreign Relations


Esteemed Countryman:

The purpose of this guide is to provide you with practical advice that may prove useful to you in case you have made the difficult decision to search for employment opportunities outside of your country.

The sure way to enter another country is by getting your passport from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, and the visa, which you may apply for at the embassy or consulate of the country you wish to travel to.

However, in practice we see many Mexicans who try to cross the Northern Border without the necessary documents, through high risk zones that involve grave dangers, particularly in desert areas or rivers with strong, and not always obvious, currents.

Reading this guide will make you aware of some basic questions about the legal consequences of your stay in the United States of America without the appropriate migratory documents, as well as about the rights you have in that country, once you are there, independent of your migratory status.

Keep in mind always that there exist legal mechanisms to enter the United States of America legally.

In any case, if you encounter problems or run into difficulties, remember that Mexico has 45 consulates in that country whose locations you can find listed in this publication.

Familiarize yourself with the closest consulate and make use of it.


Continue reading "Mexican Government guide for illegally entering the U.S." »

February 5, 2007

Mexican remittances were $25 billion in 2006

The Houston Chronicle reports, "More cash flows home, remittances from Mexicans working abroad reach $25 billion."

Mexico City -- Mexicans working abroad sent home a record $25 billion last year, most of it from the United States, according to a study released Friday. The estimated figure represents a 25 percent increase over 2005 and a nearly 80 percent surge since 2003, the Inter-American Development Bank, or IDB, said in its report. Remittances have surpassed tourism as Mexico's second-largest source of foreign revenue, helping support more than 4 million Mexican families, said the Washington-based bank, which lends to 26 member countries in Latin America and the Caribbean. Oil is Mexico's largest foreign revenue producer.

The country's reliance on remittances from abroad is not necessarily a good thing, the bank said. 'No one should celebrate that Mexico is the largest remittances market in the world,' it said. 'It means the domestic economy is simply not generating enough jobs.'

Indeed, more than half of the Mexican emigrants surveyed in another recent study by the bank said they were unemployed before leaving for the U.S. Those who held jobs in Mexico earned an average of about $150 a month. By contrast, more than half found jobs within a month of arriving in the U.S., where they earned an average monthly salary of $900.

The bank made no distinction between Mexicans who were in the U.S. legally or illegally.

(More follows on the hyperlink.)

2/5/07 update on Swift raid

The Washington Post ran this article quoting the president of Swift as saying the raids were for show.

Meatpacker: Immigration Raids Were Show
The Associated Press, February 2, 2007

Greeley, CO (AP) -- The head of meatpacker Swift & Co. said federal officials wanted a high-profile example of an immigration crackdown when they staged raids at its plants in six states in an identity theft investigation late last year.

President and CEO Sam Rovit said the government rejected the company's offer to help in the investigation months before the Dec. 12 raids.

'They were looking for a marquee to show the administration it was tough on immigration,' he told the Greeley Tribune for a story published Friday.

Rovit denied knowingly hiring illegal immigrants and told the newspaper his company complied with federal hiring practices to check applicants' immigration status.

Rovit and an Immigration and Customs Enforcement spokesman did not immediately return phone and e-mail messages from The Associated Press Friday.

ICE arrested 1,282 workers during raids in Colorado, Nebraska, Texas, Utah, Iowa and Minnesota. Of those, 246 now face state or federal identity theft charges and the rest face immigration charges.

Greeley-based Swift says it is the world's second-largest processor of fresh beef and pork, and employs about 20,000 people, including about 15,000 in the U.S.

February 1, 2007

American immigration and world trade: the connection

From 1994 until NAFTA (The American Free Trade Agreement) took effect in 2001, “total trade with Mexico had increased by a factor of 2.3, the number of intracompany transferees crossing the border had risen by a factor of 5.6, the number of temporary workers by a factor of 4.8 and the number of tourists by a factor of 2.9.” This from an article by Douglas Massey, the Princeton professor about whom I have posted before. I read this week an article he wrote, as part of a WESAW course I am taking in my town.

Go here to find the article on migration.

Massey takes a global perspective on immigration: International migrant flows “are intimately connected to broader processes of economic integration that for the past half century have been shrinking the globe.”

Flows of commodities, services and information are matched by flows of people. The industrialized countries are caught in a “contradiction”: they want to globalize everything except the flow of people. America is dead center in this contradiction. As I posted before, we have the largest number of cities with at least one million in foreign born residents, but our politicians are largely fearful of immigration.

“Immigrants arrive because the same processes of globalization that create mobile populations in developing regions and a demand for their services in global cities also create links of transportation, communication politics and cultures to make international migration easier and cheaper.”

-- from Great Decisions, 2007 edition, the Foreign Policy Association

January 19, 2007

Where to find country population, migration and related projections

Go here, A U.N. website, to find past figures from 1950 and projections through 2050. It shows that Japan and Italy will begin to experience population declines in 2010-2015 and France after 2035. Canada and Australia will have very strong immigration rates (over 5% of population in many years). The U.S. follows. The immigration rates of Western European countries are much less. Mexico will export people at a substantial rate.

January 7, 2007

150 million internal migrants in China today

Thanks to Immigration News Blog for picking up the NY Times story on Shenzhen, the vast fulcrum of China’s mammoth internal worker migration movement. There are 150 million internal migrants within China. This number compares to the 200 million estimated transborder migrants currently in the work. Assuming a labor force participation rate of 80%, this means there are 30 million more internal migrant workers in China than the entire American workforce. Internal migration provides almost all the workers for the manufacturing centers along the coast, including Shenzhen, which is near Hong Kong.

From this article:

Shenzhen was a sleepy fishing village in the Pearl River delta, next to Hong Kong, when it was decreed a special economic zone in 1980 by the paramount leader Deng Xiaoping. Since then, the city has grown at an annual rate of 28 percent, though it slowed to 15 percent in 2005.


Yu Di, a 19-year-old from Hubei Province with a junior high school education, said he worked in a grimy watch-casing factory, loading and unloading heavy boxes from a truck 11 hours a day, six days a week. With a salary of about $80 a month — and no benefits — Mr. Yu has to borrow money from his parents just to cover his living expenses. He lives in a dim and filthy dorm room, crammed with 12 bunk beds and mattresses made of bare springs covered with cardboard. “The only thing I regret is not working hard in school,” he said.
In the room next door, Zhou Hailin, 20, who grew up in Guang’an, the hometown of Deng Xiaoping, seems better off. Mr. Zhou, who came to the city four years ago, earns about $120 a month as a machinist in the same watch factory.
To do so, though, he must work eight-hour shifts, plus three or four hours of mandatory overtime, six days a week. A typical workday, he said, ends at 10:30 p.m., when he often goes to visit a sister who works in another factory nearby.

The complete article follows….

Continue reading "150 million internal migrants in China today" »

January 3, 2007

United States the leader in cities with large foreign born populations

There are twenty metropolises in the world with at least one million non transient foreign born residents. The United States has more cities with foreign born populations of at least one million than any other country: eight. Asia has only two! This according to a study on migration available on the website of the Migration Policy Institute.

The study pinpoints the cities serving as magnets and ports of entry for huge waves of migration in the past several decades. Old magnets, such as Latin American cities, have become exporters of populations. And the study locates “hyper-diverse” cities, where a large share of the population is foreign born without dominance from one or two countries.

The authors did not address cities with large internally generated in-migration, such as cities in China.

The one million plus foreign born cities are:

Asia: Hong Kong, Singapore

Australia: Melbourne, Sydney

Europe: London, Paris, Moscow

Middle East: Dubai, Medina, Mecca, Riyadh

North America: Chicago, Dallas, Houston, Los Angeles, Miami, New York, San Francisco, Toronto, Washington DC.

The United States has 14 cities with between 100,000 and 249,000 foreign born, and 15 cities with between 250,000 and 999,000 foreign born. They are scattered all across the United States.

The authors of this study write that “….answering the question "What are the world's top urban immigrant destinations?" required drilling down into existing census data from countries on every continent — data that never before had been gathered. Ultimately, data on the foreign born in 150 cities was compiled.

“The data are from a range of years, as country censuses are conducted in different years. Most of the data, however, are from the years 2000 to 2005…The cities mapped in this report are metropolitan areas of 1 million or more people with at least 100,000 foreign-born residents. Data were constructed by examining information on the foreign born for 150 cities in 52 countries.”

The authors explain why there are no Latin American or African cities in this list of twenty:

Latin American and African cities are absent from Figure 1, although they are destinations for internal and international migrants. This reflects the fact that most countries in these regions have a negative rate of net migration, meaning more emigrants leaving then immigrants arriving. Buenos Aires, a long-established immigrant destination, had fewer than 1 million foreign-born residents according to the 2001 Argentine census (approximately 920,000 foreign born), a decrease from earlier censuses. Other megacities in Latin America, such as São Paulo, Rio de Janeiro, and Mexico City, attract far fewer foreign-born residents. If anything, these localities tend to be sources for immigrants to other regions of the world, including North America, Europe, and Japan. For many African countries, the data are simply not available at the urban scale. Even if the data were available, there is little evidence that African cities are attracting large numbers of foreign-born residents, with the exception of some cities in South Africa.

The one million plus cities in the middle east are there because of very large foreign worker populations. The population of Dubai is 80% foreign born.

There are “hyper-diverse cities” where one country is not dominant in the supply of foreign born residents. “Cities that meet this definition include established gateways such as New York, London, and Toronto, which together have approximately 9 million foreign-born residents. Other hyper-diverse cities include Sydney; Amsterdam; Copenhagen; Washington, DC; Hamburg; Munich; San Francisco; and Seattle. Such cities are a product of the globalization of labor that has both economic and cultural implications…..With over two million foreign-born residents, no one group dominates Toronto's immigrant stock. Nine countries account for half of the foreign-born population, while the rest of the foreign born come from nearly every country in the world.

December 3, 2006

Why poorer educated Mexican men come work in the U.S.

A columnist in the NY Times says that Mexican men coming to work in the U.S, are relatively poorly educated. “Sixteen percent of the Mexican labor force is working in the United States at any point in time, and, of course, earning higher average wages than laborers in Mexico, so the impact of American policy on Mexico is significant.” Those will more education can get better jobs back home. They are also largely unmarried. Granting legal status to these workers, per the authors, will encourage more Mexican women to come, marry, and create stable, more productive households. The author make me think more carefully about the imbalances in the Mexican and U.S. labor market and the impact on immigration policy.

A better immigration policy would tighten the border, while allowing in more legal immigrants from Mexico and other Latin countries, and require higher levels of education. Young Mexicans would see greater reason to invest in education, to the benefit of all Mexican society, not just those who cross the border. The less educated Mexicans could be some of the biggest winners from immigration reform.

In the United States, employers have a greater incentive to train legal Mexican workers and combine their labors more effectively with capital investment; when the workers are illegal, employers create only the most makeshift of circumstances. The legality and thus physical ease of immigration would also encourage the arrival of more Mexican women, thereby remedying the gender imbalance and encouraging assimilation. In the short run, the greater number of immigrant children would raise costs in the United States for education and health care, but in the longer run those children would produce goods and services and pay taxes.

The column: Economic Scene. "The Immigration Answer? It’s in Mexico’s Classrooms"

Continue reading "Why poorer educated Mexican men come work in the U.S." »

November 14, 2006

The nursing shortage: real, getting worse, and global

My thanks to Joe Paduda for alerting me to Health Affair's articles on the nursing shortage. the shortage is real, will get worse, and is global. So any major new recruitment from abroad takes nurses from other countries. That is the message from a Linda Aiken, a professor of sociology, and director of the Center for Health Outcomes and Policy Research, School of Nursing, University of Pennsylvania in Philadelphia.

Aiken wrote in the Health Affairs blog this month, “Currently, the United States is short an estimated 150,000 nurses. Yet over the next decade, more than 650,000 new jobs in nursing will be created. At the same time, an estimated 450,000 nurses will have retired. By 2020, the nurse shortage is expected to increase to 800,000……The nurse shortage isn’t confined to the U.S. — it’s global. Extracting nurses from other countries would simply bankrupt the international supply of nurses, affecting global health.”

In her 2004 article in Health Affairs, she wrote:

The world’s nurse supply appears insufficient to meet global needs now and in the future. Countries that use the most nurses should make the biggest investments in nursing education in both their own and the developing countries from which they recruit nurses. It is not common for developed countries to invest their international aid in nursing education, and this should change to help build sustainable nursing education infrastructures in developing countries.

Ethical recruitment guidelines provide a strategy for responsibly managing international nurse recruitment, although to date the first test case—the U.K. Department of Health guidelines—has been disappointing. Since 1999, when those guidelines were established, the outflow of nurses from sub-Saharan Africa to the United Kingdom has greatly increased, and emigration from South Africa has quadrupled. The challenge is in enforcement of the guidelines, especially considering the private, entrepreneurial character of international recruitment.

The most promising strategy for achieving international balance in health workforce resources is for each country to have an adequate and sustainable source of health professionals. A two-prong strategy is required for this to happen. First, developed countries must be more diligent in exploring actions to stabilize and increase their domestic supply of nurses and moderate demand through strategic investments. Second, even without the exodus of so many qualified health professionals to work in developed countries, most less developed countries do not have the health care workforce capacity to respond to the health problems of their citizens that also can threaten global health. Making health, especially nursing, a legitimate focus of international aid and democracy building is needed.

She addressed the limited supply of nurses trained overseas:

Continue reading "The nursing shortage: real, getting worse, and global" »

October 23, 2006

size of Indian work populations in the United States.

Here is some summary data on Indians who work in the United States, which I found at this website. There are roughly 2 million persons of Indian origin in the U. S. today.

About the Asian American Hotel Owners Association

Representing over 8,300 members, AAHOA is one of the leading forces in the hospitality industry and one of the most powerful Asian American advocacy groups. Together, the members own more than 20,000 hotels, which have over one million rooms, representing over 50 percent of the economy lodging properties and nearly 37 percent of all hotel properties in the United States.

Of the hotels owned by AAHOA members, approximately 11,700 are franchised while 6,300 are independent. The market value of the properties owned by AAHOA members is estimated to be $29.9 billion in franchised properties and $8.1 billion in independent properties.

About the American Association of Physicians of Indian Origin

With a constituency of over 41,000 doctors and 10,000 medical students and residents, AAPI is the largest ethnic medical association in the United States and is the largest Indian American professional association in the United States.

October 20, 2006

The Hispanic vote and the next Congress

It’s worth pausing to think about the November Congressional elections, the Hispanic vote, and the next few years of working immigrant policy. Will the elections results improve chances of a guest worker program being enacted?

There are about 200 million eligible voters in the U.S. About 8.6% of them are Hispanic. The Hispanic population is booming, though more of it is underage compared to white and black populations. Between 2002 and 2005, The Pew Hispanic Center reports that the Hispanic population grew by 21.5% compared to 1.6% among whites, 7.4% among blacks, and 24.6% among Asians.

In 2005, Hispanic comprised at least 5% of eligible votes in 15 states: AZ, CA, CO, FL, HI, IL, MA, NV, NJ, NM, NY, RI, TX, UT and WY.

Democratic takeover of Senate and/or the House will shift power to those who agree with Bush’s guest worker program ideas. Would the prospect of a guest worker program improve if the Hispanic vote on November 7 was more dominant than in the past? I say yes, especially if Hispanic turnout suggests a pattern of increasing participation trending towards white levels of participation.

A recent Pew Hispanic Center study on the 2006 elections reports that Hispanics increased as a share of eligible voters from 7.4% in 2000 to 8.6% in 2006. There are now 17 million Hispanic citizens over the age of 18.

The big question is if the historically low rate of Hispanic registration among eligible voters will improve. According to the Center, in 2004 the registration rates among eligible voters were 58% for “Latinos”, 69% for blacks, and 75% for whites.

This November, if Latinos register according to 2004 patterns, there will be 10 million registered Latino voters. If they register at the 2004 white rate, there will be 12.3 million registered Latino voters.

October 6, 2006

Disparities in education, income among second generation immigrants

The Migration Information Service published this week a study of education, language speaking, and income patterns among Latin American and Asian second generation immigrants in southern California (San Diego) and southern Florida (Miami/ fort Lauderdale). I plucked out of the study some interesting figures on relative educational attainment and income of the family in which the second generation immigrant – usually at their mi 20s – is living.

At the low end of educational attainment and family income are Cambodian and Laotians in southern California and Haitians in southern Florida. In contrast, “At the other end, the combination of high parental human capital, a high proportion of intact families, and a neutral context of reception (as defined above), led second-generation Chinese and other Asians to extraordinary levels of educational achievement, only matched in South Florida by the offspring of upper-middle-class Cuban exiles who attended private schools. Vietnamese youths also did quite well despite low average levels of parental education.”

The schedule below lists the region, the nationality, the percentage of high school students who did not go onto higher education, and the average family income. The educational attainment percentage is the share who did NOT go onto higher ed.

These education figures don’t jibe well with national average. Nationally, about 36% do not go onto higher ed. Higher ed utilization rates are notoriously complicated to estimate. The higher education participation figures by nationality seem much too high. However, I think we can use these figures to
*compare* the nationalities below. Chinese second generation people are most active in higher education among all groups. Cambodians and Laotians have the worst rate for post high school education.

How to read the list example: Among Filipinos in southern California, 2nd generation persons were less inclined to pursue post high school education than were Vietnamese, other Asians and Chinese. The median income of the households in which the second generation resides is, for Filipinos, about $55,000 – much higher than any other listed nationality for that region.

Southern California:
Cambodian, Laotian 45.9%, $25,179
Chinese 5.7% $33,611
Filipino 15.5%, $55,323
Mexican 38% $32,585
Vietnamese 12.6% $34,868
Other, Asian 9.1%, $40,278
Other, Latin American 25.5%, $31,500

South Florida
Colombian 17%, $45,948
Cuban (Private School) 7.5%, $70,395
Cuban (Public School) 21.7%, 48,598
Haitian 15.3%, $26,974
Nicaraguan 26.4% $47,054
West Indian 18.1%, $30,326

August 19, 2006

Homeland Security estimates of unauthorized immigrants January 2005

This study has some useful information about the size of the unauthorized population and the geographic origins. For the first time I see a figure indicating a rapid increase in the number of unauthorized Indians.

The study does not address the number of unauthorized workers. My guess is that a very high percentage of all of these immigrants are working, especially recent arrivals who probably do not come with families. For instance, the 2005 total figures for Mexicao and El Salvador are equal to 5.6% and 7.0% of their respective populations at home. I suspect that the American-based numbers represent more like 7.5% and 10% of the home workforces.

The study estimates the January 2006 figure at “nearly 11 million”, having risen by and “annual average” of 408,000 in the 2000-2004 period. The figure for January 2005 is 10.5 million.

Those within the 10.5 figure came to the U.S. in these time frames:

1980-1984 10%
1985-1989 11%
1990-1994 20%
1995-1999 30%
2000-2002 20%
2003-2004 9%

It estimates that 1/1/05 there were 27,320,000 foreign born ….10,500,000 of these being unauthorized.

Origins (figures in 000s)

Country 2005, 2000

Mexico 5970 4680
El Salvador 470 430
Guatamala 370 290
India 280 120
China 230 190
Korea 210 180
Philippines 210 200
Honduras 180 160
Brazil 170 100
Vietnam 160 160
other 2250 1950

August 15, 2006

U.S. was 12.4% immigrant in 2005, vs. 11.2% in 2000

The New Times reports on the findings of the 2005 American Community Survey. The Survey results confirm what has been discerned already: more immigrants, chief among them Mexicans, and more spread out across the country.

Two decades ago, demographers said, some 75 percent to 80 percent of new immigrants settled in one of the half-dozen gateway states and tended to stay there. Then, in the last 10 to 15 years, the pattern shifted and increasing numbers began to stay in the gateways briefly and then move. Now, they say, the pattern is that more immigrants are simply bypassing the gateways altogether.

The Times reports that the survey is intended as an annual bolster to the bureau’s constitutionally mandated census of the country’s population every 10 years. It began as a test program in 1996 and has gradually expanded to where it can now provide detailed data for nearly 7,000 geographic areas, including all Congressional districts and counties or cities of 65,000 or more.

It goes on:

“What’s happening now is that immigrants are showing up in many more communities all across the country than they have ever been in,” said Audrey Singer, an immigration fellow at the Brookings Institution. “So it’s easy for people to look around and not just see them, but feel the impact they’re having in their communities. And a lot of these are communities that are not accustomed to seeing immigrants in their schools, at the workplace, in their hospitals.”

By far the largest numbers of immigrants continue to live in the six states that have traditionally attracted them: California, New York, Texas, Florida, New Jersey and Illinois. Immigrants also continue to flow into a handful of states in the Southeast, like Georgia and North Carolina, a trend that was discerned in the 2000 census. But it is in the less-expected immigrant destinations that demographers find the most of interest in the new data. Indiana saw a 34 percent increase in the number of immigrants; South Dakota saw a 44 percent rise; Delaware 32 percent; Missouri 31 percent; Colorado 28 percent; and New Hampshire 26 percent.

“Essentially, it’s a continuation of the Mexicanization of U.S. immigration,” said Steven Camarota, director of research at the Center for Immigration Studies. “You would expect Mexicans to be increasing their share in places like Georgia and North Carolina, which already saw some increases, but they’ve also increased their share of the population, and quite dramatically, in states like Michigan, Delaware and Montana.”

More of America’s immigrants, legal or not, come from Mexico than any other country, an estimated 11 million in 2005, compared with nearly 1.8 million Chinese and 1.4 million Indians.

August 1, 2006

“Building boom in Mexican town was born in Minnesota”

This Bremerton, WA Kitsap Sun article is about as insightful an analysis of inter-country financial flows from low wage immigrant workers as I have seen. A southern Mexico town of 30,000 is receiving about $2,000 per resident per year in remittances!

By Kevin Diaz, July 12, 2006

A pickup truck with Minnesota plates bounced down the dirt road on the edge of town, raising clouds of reddish dust. It caught the eye of a grazing Brahman bull and disappeared behind a clutch of mango trees bordering a new subdivision, where tangles of steel reinforcing bars sprouted from the roofs of unfinished concrete block houses.
Many of the new houses were paid for with money sent by a secret workforce in Minnesota. By Mayor Leopoldo Rodriguez's estimate, almost a third of the town's workers have crossed the border - many of them illegally - and headed north to work in the Minneapolis-St. Paul metro area over the past 10 years.
The money they wire back arrives daily by police escort in armored trucks. Altogether, it comes to between $4 million and $7 million a month, according to money-transfer agencies in the Twin Cities region. The cash has forged an economic link between Axochiapan and Minneapolis-St. Paul that is part of a global trend. It is changing Axochiapan, one household at a time.
Padre Miguel Franco Galicia, parish priest at the Church of San Pablo in Axochiapan…has visited Minneapolis several times to minister to his expatriate parishioners. He estimates that at least 60 percent of Axochiapan's population receives money from family members working in the United States, most of them in Minnesota. 'To be honest, I think there are more pluses than minuses, from an economic point of view,' he said. 'But the social devastation is enormous.'
Axochiapan (pronounced Ah-sho-chee-AH-pahn), a town of about 30,000 in southern Mexico, has known little but poverty for centuries. People made a living by farming, or by working in the gypsum mines outside of town. The recent flow of Minnesota money has improved life. Pizza deliveries, aerobics studios and Internet cafes, alongside tortilla shops and taquerias, now serve an increasingly cosmopolitan population.

More below….

Continue reading "“Building boom in Mexican town was born in Minnesota”" »

July 21, 2006

Where are Hispanic voters concentrated?

A Pew Hispanic Center study of the Hispanic vote in the 2004 elections analyzes the where eligible voters reside. (The study discusses in depth the low actual voting rate of Hispanics, as well.)

The Hispanic population remains concentrated in a few states. Several of those states were decided by wide margins in the last presidential election and do not appear to be battlegrounds in the current campaign. Texas, California and New York are all generally considered uncontested states in the presidential race, and 58% of all Latino eligible voters live in those three states alone.

Among the 18 states generally considered battlegrounds in the presidential election because they were decided by a margin of less than 7% of the popular vote in 2000, Latinos comprise at least 10% of the eligible voters in Florida, New Mexico, Nevada and Arizona. The Hispanic electorate has distinctly different characteristics in each of those states and different patterns of growth since 2000.

Florida: Hispanics make up 14% of the eligible voters, and they are unusual
because so many are naturalized citizens (44% of Latino eligible voters in Florida
compared to 24% nationally). Nonetheless, the fastest growth has been among
native born Latinos who account for 83% of the new eligible Latino voters in

New Mexico: Latinos are 40% of the eligible voters, a greater share by far than in
any other state. These voters are overwhelmingly native-born citizens, 93%.

Nevada: Latinos account for 13% of the eligible voters but their numbers are
growing very fast. Since the last presidential election, the number of eligible
Latinos in Nevada has increased by about 50%, and Latinos account for about half
of all the increase in the Nevada electorate. About two-thirds of the Latino
eligible voters in Nevada are native born.

Arizona: Some 16% of eligible voters in Arizona are Hispanics, and 80% are
native-born citizens.

Poll: hispanic voters turning away from Bush, Repubican party

Hispanic voters – 9% of the total electorate - may be “the fastest growing and perhaps the most volatile swing electorate in American politics.” What has the past year or two done to their political loyalties, after over a decade of movement towards the Republican party? The answer, from this NDN poll discussed further below:

In 2004 Kerry beat Bush 59%-40% with all Hispanics. When asked how they would vote if the Presidential election were held today, this group gives Democrats a remarkable 36-point advantage: 59%-23%. Thus the Republicans lost serious ground but Democrats did not gain any.

Bush’s standing with this group has plummeted. In the 2004 cycle, Bush regularly received a 60% favorable rating from Hispanics. In our survey this was reversed, as 38% see him favorably, 58% unfavorably, with 40% very unfavorable towards the President.

NDN, a Democratic Party-affiliated public interest group, released the results of this survey of Hispanic voters this week, in collaboration with its Hispanic Strategy Center. Another article on a recent Pew Hispanic Center political poll is found
here in the Washington Post.

The NDN survey found that support for Bush and Republicans has “dramatically declined” but that support for Democats has not proportionately increased. “Additionally, the poll offers clear evidence that the immigration debate has increased this community’s participation in the civic life of their nation. More than half of those questioned say the issue will make it more likely that they will vote this year. A remarkable 25% of those surveyed state that they have taken part in recent public demonstrations for better immigration policies. It appears that millions of Hispanics are rising to the “today we march, tomorrow we vote” challenge offered by the leaders of community this year.

The poll, conducted by the New York-based market research firm LatinInsights, surveyed a 600-person national sample of Spanish-dominant Hispanic registered voters. It is the largest poll of Spanish-language dominant Hispanic voters we’ve come across. The poll was paid for by the NDN Political Fund.

Continue reading "Poll: hispanic voters turning away from Bush, Repubican party" »

July 16, 2006

High impact of immigrant workers on civilian labor force, 1990 - 2001 and beyond

Northeastern University’s Center for Labor Market Studies prepared in 2002 a study of the impact on new immigration to the civilian labor force, by region, between 1990 and 2001. These figures instantly convey the dependence of the economy on immigrant labor. It is reasonable to infer that over a third of the new immigrants were working illegally. Since 2001, the share of immigrant worker growth has probably shifted more to the illegal category, to 1 out of 2 instead of 1 out of 3.

Below are listed regions and the percentage of civilian labor force growth attributed to immigration. A figure of over 100% indicates that without immigrants, the labor force would have declined.

New England 567%
Mid-Atlantic 369%
Eastern North Central 35%
Western North Central 20%
South Atlantic 45%
Eastern South Central 14%
Western South Central 37%
Rocky Mountains 37%
Pacific 21%

These figures appear to understate the impact of immigrant labor on the labor force, because the impact rose after the early 1990s. According to one analysis, the President’s 2005 Economic Report estimated that “The President’s report points out that “between 1996 and 2003, when total employment grew by 11 million, 58 percent of the net increase was among foreign-born workers,” almost all of whom had arrived since 1995. The immigrant share of employment growth was even higher in particular occupations, amounting in the 1996-2002 period to 86 percent of the 1 million new positions in “precision production, craft, and repair” (which includes mechanics and construction workers) and 62 percent of the 2 million new positions in service occupations (such as janitors, kitchen workers, and grounds workers).

“Moreover, this pattern holds true beyond the traditional immigrant-receiving states of California, New York, Texas, and Florida. The President’s report notes that between 1996 and 2003 immigrants accounted for 84 percent of labor-force growth in eastern North Central states (Indiana, Illinois, Michigan, Ohio, and Wisconsin) and 47 percent in eastern South Central states (Alabama, Kentucky, Mississippi, and Tennessee).”

The press release from Northeastern is as follows:

Continue reading "High impact of immigrant workers on civilian labor force, 1990 - 2001 and beyond" »

July 13, 2006

New study of low wage Korean immigrant workers in New York City

The Asian American Legal Defence and Education Fund, located in New York City, just issued an important study of the 200,000 Korean Americans working in the New York City area.

The study drew upon a sample of 187 low wage Korean immigrant workers, in jobs such as hair and nail salons, dry cleaning, garment making, grocery stores, and health spas. The workers were interviewed between January 2005 and January 2006.

37% had less than a high school education
28% were undocumented workers; 42% were American citizens; 30% legal permanent residents.
Only 6% had more than limited English proficiency
47% worked more than 60 hours a week, yet....
73% had no overtime pay provisions.
15% had either poor health experiences or had been injured on the job.
64% did not know about workers compensation
55% did not know about unemployment compensation

June 11, 2006

immigration population estimates vary widely

The Washington Post carries a story today about widely varying estimates of the size of foreign born populations in the United States. Getting a realistic count can depend on natural disasters that induce many hiding in the shadows to come forward. It appears not hard for people to come up with estimates double that of the Current Population Survey (CPS), but with no heard research documentation.

It start with an example of a woman who has been an exclusively American citizen for nine years but still calls herself Guatemalan. The U.S. Census counts as Guatamalans those who were born there. Embassies here count also children born here because they may claim citizenship their parents’ country of origin.

The 2000 Census says that 105,000 Salvadoreans live in the Washington, DC area. The Current Population Survey, conducted monthly by the Census Bureau, says the number averaged about 130,000 over the past three years. The Salvadorean embassy says 500,000. In addition to passports issued, the ambassador of Salvador bases his calculations on the number of Salvadorans who registered with U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services for temporary permission to live in the United States after earthquakes rocked El Salvador in 2001. Nationwide, the number of registrants is 244,000. But, León surmises that only half of the people eligible for the temporary residence program after the disaster signed up for it.

Then the ambassador points to a study showing that $1.2 billion flowed into Latin America from immigrants living in the District, Maryland and Virginia in 2004. Most of that went to El Salvador, León said, noting that Salvadorans living in Virginia send home more money annually than those in any state except California. The number of Salvadorans in the Washington region must be far higher then census-based estimates to have sent such a large sum in just one year, the ambassador said.

Embassy officials say the census vastly undercounts immigrant populations, which have skyrocketed since 2000, when the most accurate and detailed figures were released. The Peruvian general consul estimates 70,000 vs. 23,000 in the CPS. Embassy officials say that no matter the number, their communities' populations have shot up exponentially in recent years. Talavera, for example, said the Peruvian Embassy issues 40 percent more national identity cards than it did in 2001.
Experts reject claims that immigrant population figures could be several times higher than the census numbers or than the data derived from the less comprehensive Current Population Survey, which polls 50,000 U.S. households each month. Enrique Escorza, the Mexican general consul in Washington, oversees a region that includes the District and all of Maryland, Virginia and West Virginia. He puts the Mexican community in that region at 250,000, more than twice the 2000 Census count for the same area.

June 7, 2006

The two waves of Hispanic labor into the United States

There have been two major waves of Hispanic labor – each leaving their mark – since the 1980s, when the 1986 immigration bill was passed with the intention of controlling migration from Latin America. These waves account for the large majority of undocumented workers. The present immigration uproar from an historical perspective is understandable once one sees how these two waves differ.

Prior to the 1980s, Hispanic immigrant labor was concentrated in agriculture. But farming stopped being a major attraction because, first, job growth died up; second, wages were better elsewhere.

The first of these two waves was what researcher Steve Striffler calls the rise of the industrial chicken, within a meat processing boom. (Striffler wrote Chicken: The Dangerous Transformation of America's Favorite Food. I have commented on this excellent source before.) According to another researcher, Russell Cobb, In 1990, the U.S. exported 500,000 metric tons of chicken overseas, while in the year 2000 that figure increased five-fold to 2,500,000, as China and Russia became the two largest consumers of U.S. chicken. Latin America provided the enabling labor.

Rurally based, vertically integrated meat processing spawned into a de facto guest worker program. In 1990, 15% of meat processing labor was Hispanic. In 1998 it was 33%. In 2003 it was 43%. This was the first phase of the growth of a post-farmworker illegal workforce in the country.

Meat processing (poultry in the south, beef and pork in the Midwest) expands in other rural locations such as Duplin County, NC (turkeys) Garden City, KS (beef) and Guymon, OK (pork). From North Carolina to Arkansas, as black and white workers move up the economic ladder, Hispanics fill the labor gap. Meat processing took over from agriculture the role of the leading employment sector for illegal immigrants. In these isolated communities, Hispanic populations rose 1000% or more between the 1990 and 2000 censuses.

Reached by phone at his office at the University of Arkansas, where he is on the anthropology faculty, Striffler described how this demand for labor altered illegal immigration. During the late 1980s through the mid 1990s, new tendrils for new labor supply strung together particular communities in Latin America, labor recruiters working often at the Mexican-American border, and particular rural centers of work in the United States. Other industries benefited, for example the carpet manufacturers of Dalton, GA, which experienced a phenomenal rise in Hispanic population in the 1990s.

The second phase of the post farmworker illegal workforce began. Home construction took over from meat processing the role of leading employer in influencing expectations. Hispanic workers flowed into the residential housing boom, moving closer to these jobs in metropolitan areas throughout the United States. Hispanic employment in construction stood at 650,000 in 1990; 783,000 in 1995,; and 1,408 in 2000. The Pew Hispanic Center, which closely monitors immigration patterns, estimates more illegal Hispanics work today in construction roofing than in the meat processing industry.

This second wave of immigration brought Hispanic workers in large numbers into metropolitan areas – standing in Home Depot parking lots, for example, making themselves much more visible to the public. While the public had little problem with Hispanics producing cheap meat and rugs from isolated rural factories, they have found their presence in cities and suburbs obnoxious – and this has fueled the anti-immigration movement.

May 30, 2006

Working in the military to gain U.S. citizenship

In 2003, 2.6% of the American military were non-citizens. There were over 37,000 non-citizen active duty members of the armed forces, out of a total of 1,414,000 on active duty. About 6,000 enroll each year. Until recently a non-citizen had to serve three years, have already permanent resident (green card) status, to become naturalized. That is today reduced to one year. Normal minimum wait time for green card holders for naturalization is five years. These rules for military members are laid out in section 328 of the Immigration and Nationality Act.

May 29, 2006

10% of young working ago persons in U.S. are non-citizens

And half of them are undocumented. This I derived from 2000 year estimates of 18-24 year old non-citizens by Jeff Passell, now of at the Pew Hispanic Center. Passell estimated that there were 2.9 million non-citizens in this age range. These young adults were 16% of the 18.5 million non-citizen population – a markedly higher rate than for the entire population – 9.6% were in this age group in 2000. Passel estimated that 51.3% were undocumented; 35.4% had green card (legal permanent status), 5.3% were refugees, and 7.4% were non immigrants (temporary workers, students, etc. There are about 600,000 foreign students in America. It just seems more). Bottom line: we are depending on foreign workers for one tenth of our new entrants into the workforce.

May 12, 2006

Census Bureau reports on Hispanic growth rate

I have been searching for the best media report on these findings, and Jim Quiggle sent me a copy of CNN’s. Hispanics have been and will continue to account for over a third of the country’s population increase. “The Population Resource Center cites statistics showing the average Hispanic woman will have three children in her lifetime; it's 1.8 for non-Hispanic whites.”

It mutes the illegal-versus-legal debate," said Linda Jacobson, director of domestic programs for the Population Reference Bureau in Washington. "We need to be more focused on how we meet the needs of children in immigrant families who are citizens.

Just look at the age demographics: “Census statistics also show that 45 percent of children under age 5 are from a racial or ethnic minority. The median age for Hispanics -- the point at which half are older and half are younger -- was 27.2 years in 2005. It was 30.0 years for blacks and 40.3 years for white non-Hispanics.”

May 10, 2006

NPR report on social impact back home of Mexican work migration to U.S.

On May 9, NPR ran a first part of a series on the social impact in Mexico of the migration of large numbers of adults to the United States for work. This first part threads a story of a troubled 14 year old whose father, then mother, left for the United States. “When Mexicans migrate to the United States, many leave their children in the care of extended families. That's causing problems back in their home communities, with children doing poorly in school, dropping out or turning to crime,” reports NPR.

[School headmistress] Antonia Figaroa Ibanez says that more and more parents are leaving their children behind to be cared for by relatives. "It's affecting us hugely," she says. "Out of 73 children in one class, 10 have neither of their parents here. That's a big number."

Teacher Carmen Sanchez says that when a child's parents leave, there is a clear consequence. "When they don't have their father or mother, they lack confidence ... in the academic sphere," she says. "It means that they will be more likely to miss school and to drop out. They are also less respectful of their grandmothers or uncles or their teachers."
Because crossing the border illegally has become more difficult and costly, migrants don't want to risk returning to see their families.

More Mexican children and mothers have been coming to the United States, it appears, because only that way can they be with their fathers/husbands.

May 3, 2006

Illegal Immigrants, Immigration Reform and the Catholic Church

Donald Kerwin, executive director of the Catholic Legal Immigration Network, a key advocacy group, wrote on 5/1 about the church’s positive, perhaps even militant stand, in regarding undocumented workers rights. He write about recent events and gives a short history of the experience of Catholic immigrants in the early decades of the 20th Century, when they often suffered from discrimination. “Cardinal Roger Mahony electrified the US immigration reform debate by announcing on March 1, 2006 (Ash Wednesday), that he would instruct archdiocesan priests and lay Catholics to ignore provisions in a House-passed “enforcement only” bill (H.R. 4437) — were they to pass — that would make it a crime to assist unauthorized immigrants.”

In February 2003….bishops in the United States and Mexico released Strangers No Longer: Together on a Journey of Hope, a pastoral statement that called for a comprehensive approach to immigration reform. Strangers No Longer built on themes established in other pastoral statements by US bishops (One Family Under God in 1995 and Unity in Diversity in 2000), annual statements by the Holy Father on migration, and a long history of Catholic teaching documents. The US bishops have conducted extensive rollout of these documents through public gatherings, within the relevant church structures, and to lay Catholics, in response to what it sees as increasingly harsh anti-immigrant rhetoric and legislation.

Kerwin provides an historical perspective: “….The church sees parallels between the last great wave of immigrants to the United States, in the late 19th and early 20th centuries, and the current wave.”

Continue reading "Illegal Immigrants, Immigration Reform and the Catholic Church" »

Strangers No Longer: Catholic Church's statement on Hispanic illegal immigration

This February 2003, pastoral letter signed by Mexican and American bishops in the Catholic Church forms a foundation for the church's strong support of immigration reform that gives undocumented immigrants legal protections. The letter addresses the broad social issues of all Hispanic immigration.

Selected numbered paragraphs:

102. We recognize the phenomenon of migration as an authentic sign of the times. We see it in both our countries through the suffering of those who have been forced to become migrants for many reasons. To such a sign we must respond in common and creative ways so that we may strengthen the faith, hope, and charity of migrants and all the People of God. Such a sign is a call to transform national and international social, economic, and political structures so that they may provide the conditions required for the development for all, without exclusion and discrimination against any person in any circumstance.

103. In effect, the Church is increasingly called to be "sign and instrument both of a very closely knit union with God and of the unity of the whole human race" (Lumen Gentium, no. 1). The Catholic bishops of the United States and Mexico, in communion with the Holy Father in his 1995 World Migration Day message, affirm that

In the Church no one is a stranger, and the Church is not foreign to anyone, anywhere. As a sacrament of unity and thus a sign and a binding force for the whole human race, the Church is the place where illegal immigrants are also recognized and accepted as brothers and sisters. It is the task of the various Dioceses actively to ensure that these people, who are obliged to live outside the safety net of civil society, may find a sense of brotherhood in the Christian community. Solidarity means taking responsibility for those in trouble.

The Church must, therefore, welcome all persons regardless of race, culture, language, and nation with joy, charity, and hope. It must do so with special care for those who find themselves–regardless of motive–in situations of poverty, marginalization, and exclusion.

Continue reading "Strangers No Longer: Catholic Church's statement on Hispanic illegal immigration" »

April 24, 2006

Illegal immigrants want to stay, become U.S. citizens

In an earlier posting, I reported that the National Immigration Forum surveyed several hundred Spanish speaking undocumented workers in late 2005, and released the results at the end of March. That posting mainly addressed their use of documentation for work. This posting addresses preparation and desire to become American citizens. In short, the vast majority does wish to stay here and become citizens. A large minority of them is here with their spouses and/or children.

The results:

Continue reading "Illegal immigrants want to stay, become U.S. citizens" »

April 21, 2006

Nursing shortages: foreign workers to fill them?

The United States employs about 2 million nurses, 60% of them in hospitals. We need more. A South Korean newspaper reports that 10,000 South Korean nurses are “likely be hired as nurses at U.S. hospitals over the next five years, a South Korean state firm said Friday. [It] said it plans to sign a contract with San Francisco-based worker dispatch company HRS Global and New York-based St. John's Riverside Hospital…” In 2000 new nursing graduates totaled about 76,000, down from 95,000 in 1993. Based on current staffing requirements, there is today a shortage of about 125,000 nurses, as noted in this report. (A 300,000 shortage figure sometimes heard seems to be a substantial exaggeration.) Domestic graduations are not expected to increase. What would happen if nurses were paid 20% more?

Here’s the plan:

Continue reading "Nursing shortages: foreign workers to fill them?" »

April 18, 2006

How illegal workers get and use documentation

The National Immigration Forum surveyed several hundred Spanish speaking undocumented workers in late 2005, and released the results at the end of March. Some of the more interesting items involve the obtaining and use of several sources of documentation. Only a minority are paid in part or all by check, and only 39% of those have taxes deducted from their paychecks. Here are some interesting points:

Survey information: Survey was conducted in Miami, Los Angeles and Chicago; Country of birth: 60% Mexican, the most divided evenly between Central and South America, with a small number of Dominicans; Duration in U.S. less than a year: 3%; 1 – 5 year, 42%; 6- 10 years, 34%; over 10 years, 21%; 74% never go back to home country. 75% work full time.

Identification used:

Home country driver’s license: 57%
Consular ID: 57%
Home country passport: 48%
Other kinds of documents: 45%
U.S. driver’s license: 13%
Other: 3%

What kind of documents did you need to show to your employer?

None: 67%
Facsimile of Social Security Card: 28%
Consular ID: 5%

Would you be able to prove that you have worked in the U.S?

Yes: 64%
No: 36%

How are you paid:

Cash only: 52%
Check: 21%
Check and cash: 28%

If you are paid in check, is money deducted from your pay check for taxes?

Yes: 39%
No: 61%

April 16, 2006

Another look at immigrant workers and declining labor force participation

The bumper sticker to this posting is that among several factors causing relatively fewer Americans to be employed or look for work, one of them is higher numbers of illegal workers. And one of the factors buried in the statistics of incremental decline in labor force rates is a positive one: not working in order to invest in education. Many young Americans continue to arrive at adulthood poorly educated, and they are vulnerable regardless of the presence of illegal workers. It is short-sighted to isolate the illegal workforce out of a more complex and more difficult set of conditions.

Continue reading "Another look at immigrant workers and declining labor force participation" »

April 12, 2006

This week’s immigrant demonstrations make big impact

"People Power" is how the New York Times painted the large and many orderly demonstrations this Monday. In Washington DC, Ted Kennedy addressed the crowd like a modern day Henry V, evoking future memories of that day. Demonsrtators read from sheets the following phonetized pledge of allegiance: “Ai pledch aliyens to di fleg, Of d Yunaited Esteits of America, An tu di republic for wich it stands, Uan naishion, ander Gad, Indivisibol, Wit liberti an yostis, For oll”

The immigration rallies of recent weeks have drawn an astounding number of people around the country: Monday's "national day of action" was attended by an estimated 180,000 in Washington, 100,000 each in Phoenix and New York City, 50,000 each in Atlanta and Houston, and tens of thousands more in other cities.

Adding in the immense marches last month in Los Angeles and Chicago, the immigrants and their allies have carried off an amazing achievement in mass political action, even though many of them are here illegally and have no right to vote.
The marchers in white T-shirts poured out of the subway doors and merged into a stream, flowing like blood cells through the tubular innards of the Washington Metro, past turnstiles and up escalators and out into the delicate brilliance of a fine spring day. On the street, they met up with the others — young parents, old people, toddlers in strollers, teenagers in jeans and jewelry — and headed to the Mall, where they and their American flags dissolved into a shimmering sea of white, red and blue.

The AP reported the following:

"This is bigger than the civil rights movement in the sixties. This is huge," New Mexico Gov. Bill Richardson said Tuesday on CBS' "The Early Show." "What this is building is enormous pressure on the Congress to pass a comprehensive immigration bill _ tighten border security, more border patrol agents, secure the border from drugs and illegal traffic, but also a sensible legalization plan that brings the 11 million undocumented workers out of the shadows," he said.

Out of Many, One: The Far-Reaching Touch of the Crowd” was the title of an analysis in the Washington Post on 4/11 by a reporter clearly impressed by the orderliness of the demonstration. “The crowd as historical actor is acting again.”

April 11, 2006

A few handy figures about immigration to work in the U.S.

There is no easy way to estimate the net change from year to year in foreign workers coming to the U.S. and the number of foreign workers in the U.S. at any time. The following figures can help. One can infer from these figures that upwards of half of the net increase in foreign workers has been illegal workers. The entire set is divided among official permanent admissions, official temporary admissions, and illegal entrants.

Number of foreign-born persons in the U.S. today: 35 million

Subset of 35M who have become American citizens: 12 million

Subset of 35M who are eligible for citizenship but have elected to become citizens as yet: 8 million

Simple math suggests that about 15 million foreign born people in the U.S. are neither citizens nor on a citizen track. The estimated 12 million illegal immigrants make up the large majority of these persons.


Number of persons (adults, children, retirees) formally admitted into the U.S. each year for permanent residence (which can lead to citizenship): roughly about 1 million

(This and other official figures below are rough due to volatility from year to year, driven in part by paperwork backlogs)

Subset of these 1M persons who are working age adults: 400,000?

Subset of these 400,000 +/- working age adults who were admitted on the basis of employment criteria (“employment based preferences”) as opposed to family ties, other: about 150,000


Number of new H-1B temporary professional workers formally admitted each year (i.e. Bill Gate's programmers): 95,000

Number of new H-2A temporary agricultural workers (special agricultural workers) admitted each year: 200,000? less those returning

Number of other temporary workers admitted for miscellaneous programs: to be found but probably well under 50,000 (types: H-2B, H-1C, E, L, O, P, R, for nurses, ministers, ahtletes, etc, etc.)


Number of new illegal workers each year: roughly 350,000

April 5, 2006

developed world pop growth: mostly immigrants

The Financial Times on April 4 reported on a United Nations prediction that population growth in the developed world in the future may be almost entirely from international migration.

“Given the low fertility levels in developed countries, net migration has become the major source of population growth, accounting for half that growth in 1990-95, two-thirds in 1995-2000 and three-quarters in 2000-05,” the UN said. “If current trends continue, between 2010 and 2030, net migration will likely account for virtually all growth....“In addition, the governments of countries of origin have become more proactive in encouraging the return of their citizens and strengthening ties with their expatriate communities.”

The report, prepared for this week’s meeting of the Commission on Population and Development, said there were 191m migrants globally, up from 175m in 2000 and 155m in 1990. That represented a slowdown in growth compared with the 15-year period between 1975 and 1990, which saw 41m new migrants. But between 1990 and 2005, 33m out of 36m migrants moved to the developed world, with the US alone gaining 15m and Germany and Spain each accounting for 4m. The UN report said, “Today, one in every three migrants lives in Europe and about one in every four lives in northern America

Douglas Massey of Princeton: a blast of fresh air on Mexican immigrant workers

Douglas S. Massey, Princeton University professor, has closely studied Mexican immigrants and comes up with energetic, constructive interpretations of worker migration into the United. States. I will summarise several of his books. He also wrote an op-ed piece in the New York Times on Monday. One of his most intensely argued points is that border security-alone advocates hugely misperceive what the Mexican worker migration is all about. Massey's broad view puts our immigration issues in the context of 160 million immigrants troughout the world.

Crossing the Border (2004) (co-editor)

The full title: “Crossing the Border: Research from the Mexican Migration Project” (2004). Per the review in Amazon, the book draws from “the largest, most comprehensive, and reliable source of data on Mexican immigrants currently available". It is a myth-breaking book:

Continue reading "Douglas Massey of Princeton: a blast of fresh air on Mexican immigrant workers" »

April 4, 2006

Study: without immigrants, almost 2 million poorly educated Americans would be back in labor force.

The Center for Immigration Studies issued a report in March which estimates the negative impact of poorly educated immigrants upon the employment of poorly educated Americans. It finds a strong impact.

Dropping Out: Immigrant Entry and Native Exit From the Labor Market, 2000-2005” by Steven Camarota of the Center for Immigration Studies points to higher unemployment rates by industry and lower workforce rates of Americans, by age cohort. He estimates that without the increase in immigrant labor, amost 2 million Americans with a high school degree or less would be in the labor force.

He concludes in part:

The findings of this report call into the question the idea that America is desperately short of less-educated workers. In 2005, there were 3.8 million unemployed adult natives (18 to 64) with just a high school degree or less and another 19 million not in the labor force. Moreover, between 2000 and 2005 there was a significant deterioration in the labor market prospects of less-educated adult natives. The labor force participation has fallen significantly for both natives without a high school degree and those with only a high school degree. Had it remained the same in 2005 as it had been in 2000, there would have been an additional 450,000 adults without a high school degree in the labor force and 1.4 million more adult natives with a only high school degree in the labor force. This decline in particularly troubling because these workers already have lower labor force participation and higher unemployment than more educated workers. They also tend to be the poorest Americans.
Among teenage natives (age 15 to 17), labor force participation has also declined. At the same time that natives have been leaving the labor market, the number of immigrants with a high school degree or less in the labor force increased by 1.6 million. Wage growth among less-educated adult natives has also lagged well behind more-educated workers.

April 2, 2006

Anti-guestworker panel argues its case

I have condensed the transcript of a March 3 2006 panel discussion called: Guestworker Programs: Do They Make Sense for America? The meeting was sponsored by the Center for Immigration Studies, and the transcript came from its website. All the panelists are vocal critics of the guestworker program. I have divided the posting into major segments: (1) 1986 IRCA failed in processing, enforcement, and numbers of evaders, (2) economics of farm labor and what happens when labor costs rise (we adjust) (3) net cost to taxpayer even after guestworker program of $10B, and (4) How to deal with current 12 million illegal immigrants (attrition).

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March 30, 2006

Latin American migrants send back $54B in year in remittances

Migrant workers from Latin America and the Caribbean sent home $53.6bn to their families last year, an increase of 17% from 2004. The remittance are sent from the U.S, Canada, and other developed countries. This is according to a Financial Times report on an upcoming study by the Inter-American Development Bank. The study "confirms Latin America's position as the biggest market in the world for remittances. For the third consecutive year, remittances to the region exceeded the combined flows of direct foreign investment and overseas economic aid."

The FT report does not appear to distinquish between Latin Americans who have become citizens, those who are legal immigrants, and those who are illegal immigrants.

The FT goes on to report that

"The shift in international trade, investment and communications has required the world's political and economic system to adapt new rules and mechanisms to meet modern realities," said Donald Terry, head of the bank's multilateral investment fund. "The same needs to be done for the migrant labourers who have become such an integral part of the world's labour markets."

An estimated 25m-27m Latin Americans are living and working abroad, 22m of them in the developed markets of North America, Europe and Japan. Migrant workers from the region now made up more than 20% of the labour force in Madrid, Spain's capital. In the US, Latin American and Caribbean workers constitute an average of 12%of the labour force. Family by family, worker by worker, migrants are redrawing the map of global labour markets
Improvements in techniques used to monitor the flows of remittances in part accounted for the sharp rise last year. Many migrants continue to use informal channels, and the total could be more than $59bn.
Countries nearest the US have seen the biggest flows, with Mexico drawing some $20bn of foreign exchange earnings from remittances. The five countries of Central America and the Dominican Republic received $11bn.
Brazil got $6bn, Colombia $4bn and the four other Andean economies a total of $9bn. The bank is continuing its efforts to force down transmission costs of remittances, typically despatched in sums of between $100 and $300. Commission costs now amount to about 5% of the total, less than half the levels of five years ago.

March 29, 2006

The great demographic shift in the American workforce

In the past ten years, the American workforce has been growing in total largely on the strength of increases in foreign born labor. Among the ranks of the employed, foreign-born worker growth’s role has been even more pronounced.

An article in the May 2002 issue of the Monthly Labor Review has data to show the impact of foreign-born labor. The authors reported that for the year 2000, three quarters of the growth in the workforce was from foreign labor. In that year, employment among non foreign-born workers actually declined by 491,000 while employment among foreign-born workers rose by 897,000.

The Bureau of Labor Statistics reported more recently that in 2004 the total number of foriegn-born workforce was about 21.4 million, or 14.5.% of thr total labor force. Slightly under half of the workforce growth between 2002 and 2004 was foreign-born.

Foreign born labor has entered employment rolls in an hour glass fashion: a small absolute number in the highly trained professions, a much larger number and much larger proportional impact in the bottom quarter of jobs as defined by educational requirements.

Between 1996 and 2000, foreign-born labor accounted for 49% of the increase in the workforce. (As the 2000 data above show, this percentage increased in 2000 alone.) For workforce members without a high school diploma, the total number in America declined by 393,000 but the total number of foreign-born workers with less than a high school diploma went up by 654,000. Thus, foreign-born workers were rapidly filling the ranks of the low educated that were being emptied by non-foreign born.

For the occupational category of “operators, fabricators and laborer,” total workforce growth in 1996-2000 was 105,000. However the workforce growth among foreign born was 664,000, indicating that non-foreign born ranks declined while foreign born workers flooded in.

March 22, 2006

Meat processing: an industry engineered to hire immigrants

In the past twenty years the meat processing industry has evolved into a more rural, immigrant-staffed and corporately organized industry. To get to full picture you need to appreciate the interweaving of a number of apparently disparate trends which, together, evolved into a huge immigrant hiring and employment machine: in a way, a completely privatized, but hardly improvised, guest worker program. The industry model was: larger, more efficient and non-union plants; recruitment of immigrant labor to rural sites; and deskilling of jobs in part to facilitate immigrant hiring.

As of 2003, about 43% of meat processing labor was Hispanic, up from 33% in 1998 and 15% in 1990. The Pew Hispanic Center estimates that 27% of this meat processing workforce is undocumented workers. This trend line suggests that half of the workforce today is Hispanic. Below we describe industry growth and ruralization; concentration, deskilling, and planning for immigrants.

Continue reading "Meat processing: an industry engineered to hire immigrants" »

Non-white populations continue to penetrate more areas of the country

A March 2006 Brookings Institution study reports that between 2000 and 2004, “Hispanic and Asian populations are spreading out from their traditional metropolitan centers, while the shift of blacks toward the South is accelerating.”

It goes on to report that

Of the nation's 361 metropolitan areas, 111 registered declines in white population from 2000 to 2004, with the largest absolute losses occurring in New York, San Francisco, and Los Angeles. Declines were greatest in coastal metropolitan areas and economically stagnant parts of the country. More so than for minority groups, white population growth has dispersed towards smaller-sized areas.
Minorities contributed the majority of population gains in the nation's fastest-growing metropolitan areas and central metropolitan counties from 2000 to 2004. Minority groups remain the demographic lifeblood of inner counties in older metropolitan areas, but they are increasingly fueling growth in fast-growing outer suburban and "exurban" counties as well.
Hispanic, Asian, and black populations continue to migrate to, and expand their presence in, new destinations. They are increasingly living in suburbs, in rapidly growing job centers in the South and West, and in more affordable areas adjacent to higher-priced coastal metro areas. The wider dispersal of minority populations signifies the broadening relevance of policies aimed at more diverse, including immigrant, communities.

The study: Diversity Spreads Out: Metropolitan Shifts in Hispanic, Asian, and Black Populations Since 2000, by William H. Frey, March 2006

Further findings:

Continue reading "Non-white populations continue to penetrate more areas of the country" »

March 17, 2006

Smuggling of Chinese workers into the United States

The handing down of a 35 year sentence on 3/16 in New York City brought a kind of closure to one of the most lurid worker smuggler schemes in recent American history: Chinese coming into the U.S. by boat, plane, or via Mexico, under the control of professional smugglers, or “snakeheads,” and Cheng Chui Ping – “Sister Ping” -- in particular.

As reported by the New York Times, “The Chinatown businesswoman who calls herself Sister Ping was sentenced yesterday to 35 years in prison for running one of New York City's most lucrative immigrant smuggling rings and for financing the infamous voyage of the Golden Venture, the rusting freighter that ran aground off Queens in June 1993 with nearly 300 starving immigrants in its fetid hold. Ten of the immigrants died after they leaped into chilly waves off the Rockaways in a final effort to reach American soil.”

According to an article, “A hard road ahead: how the snakeheads rule”,

Driving the flow of illegal Chinese immigrants into the U.S. is the hope of fabulous economic gain. An undocumented Chinese can earn about $1,500 a month working at a restaurant in America. An immigrant who sends half that money home to China can catapult his or her family into the upper class in a country where the average income, according to several international reports, is between $250 and $300 a year. An INS intelligence report estimates that in 1999, between 12,000 and 24,000 illegal Chinese entered the United States, although academics and other experts say the number is much higher. Of these undocumented immigrants, more than 80 percent come from the Fujian province in southeastern China.
Alien smuggling from China began in the 1970s, according to the FBI’s Rose. But it wasn’t until the 1990s that masses of Fujianese began entering the country illegally. Throughout the 1980s, the Cantonese population in New York City’s Chinese communities ballooned, expanding from New York City’s Chinatown into Brooklyn and Queens. In the late 1980s to the mid-1990s, the U.S. government began to relax its immigration policies. One policy implemented during this time came as a result of the Chinese government’s 1989 crackdown on student protesters in Tiananmen Square; President George Bush’s administration allowed all Chinese students in the United States at the time to become legal permanent residents. Encouraged, the Chinese began coming to the United States in greater numbers, increasing the influx of Chinese immigration from a trickle to a flow.

Returning to the New York Times article, “Ms. Cheng, 57, was convicted on June 23 after a monthlong trial in Federal District Court in Manhattan on three counts of immigrant smuggling, money-laundering and trafficking in kidnapping proceeds….. The tough sentence marked the end of a 12-year effort to catch and prosecute Ms. Cheng….. Martin D. Ficke, the special agent in charge of Immigration and Customs Enforcement for New York, said Ms. Cheng's was the biggest immigrant smuggling operation ever investigated in New York. He said the operation had been shut down.

“An assistant United States attorney, Leslie C. Brown, said at the beginning of the hearing that ….in a two-decade smuggling career, the prosecutor said, Ms. Cheng charged exorbitant rates for a sea trip in which passengers were given little food and sometimes only two sips of water a day. Once they arrived in the United States she hired gang members to ensure that they paid their debts to her, Ms. Brown said.”

Ko-lin Chin wrote "The Social Organization of Chinese Human Smuggling"
Excerpts from "Global Human Smuggling: Comparative Perspectives" (published by John Hopkins in 2001)

Continue reading "Smuggling of Chinese workers into the United States" »

March 11, 2006

The working immigrant and social mobility in America

Let us look at the analyses of job growth in the past ten years and projected into the 2010 and ponder how job trends are reinforcing barriers to upward mobility.

They show an hourglass shape: strong, in some instances spectacular growth of knowledge economy jobs, shrinkage of routine jobs (such as office workers) and steady growth of many manual jobs. I have noted the influx of relatively small numbers of highly educated foreigners into the American workforce, for instance physicians.

David Autor of MIT in examining these trends says the American workforce is being polarized. (I have noted Autor’s findings here.)

The more we delve into this trend, the more we see structural changes that inhibit upward migration of low income workers. That does not mean we are doomed to a good jobs/lousy jobs future. It does mean, however, that government policy must be harnessed to lessen these rigidities.

The polarization challenge is at its most acute within the huge undocumented workforce of America. Handcuffs, not a handshake or even a handout, are looming into the futures of these workers.

We are losing through off-shoring net about 300,000 routine office types of jobs a year. We are adding net about 300,000 undocumented workers a year. Today undocumented workers are about (per the Pew Hispanic Center, with some adjustments) about 7.5 million undocumented workers -- illegal immigrants -- a year. they make up a quarter of the workforce in some job, particular high risk, such as roofers. One half (!) of new immigrants in the U.S. are undocumented workers. (I have presented Pew data here and here.)

It is important to realize that these manual jobs are increasing, and will continue to increase. Would anyone disagree with the proposition that an undocumented worker enjoys significantly less upward mobility than does a legal American working alongside him or her, or a legal immigrant?

March 8, 2006

Immigration of medical doctors to the U.S.

Some 22% of MDs in practice in the United States in 2004 were non-Americans trained in foreign medical schools, according to an article published October, 2005 in the New England Journal of Medicine. The total number of doctors in practice was 836,000. Of these 183,000 were non-Americans trained abroad. Six countries supplied 49% of these 183,000 (in descending order): India, Philippines, Pakistan, Canada, China, and the foreign Soviet Union. In 2004 40,888 India trained doctors were in practice in the United States. That made up 5% of all practicing MDs and 22% of all non-American foreign trained doctors.

It is not known how many American trained doctors work abroad, however the number is likely insignificant. The total number of American trained doctors working in Canada, the UK, and Australia in 2004 equaled only 671 (while 13,571 non-American doctors trained in those countries were working in the U.S.)

Americans trained abroad and working in the U.S. in 2004 were 23,380, or 3% of the entire body of doctors in practice.

These summary ratios are also roughly the same for the practicing MD populations in Canada, UK, and Australia.

The brain drain from developing countries to the United States, Canada, the UK and Australia from some developing countries was quite high. For example, 41% of Jamaica trained doctors (excluding Americans) worked in one of these four developed countries. The brain drain percentages for other countries included Haiti (35%,), the Philippines (18%), and India (11%.)

Summarizing on India: about one out of every ten India trained doctors were practicing in one of these four developed countries, and in the U.S. they made up 5% of all doctors.

Fitzhugh Mullan MD of George Washington University authored the article.

March 7, 2006

Types of work done by illegal immigrants and other data from the Pew Hispanic Center

The Center released today a report which updates its findings from 2005. I have listed below some of the more interesting findings:

1. The total undocumented population now is 11.5 – 12 million. The population continues to grow at 500,000 per year. There are in total about 37 million immigrants in the United States.

2. The number of undocumented workers as of 3/05 was 7.2 million. (I extrapolate that to a March 2006 estimate of 7.6 million ) This is equal to about 5% of the American workforce.

3. Some 55-60% of these undocumented workers are in formal employment and are paying social security taxes, which go into a Social Security suspense file when the Soc Sec # is unverifiable.

4. About 3 million of the 7.2 million workers are in occupations in which undocumented workers account for at least 15% of total employment in that occupation. These include construction labor (25%), cooks (20%). Maids and housecleaners (22%), and grounds maintenance (25%). among roofers, 29% of the total workforce is estimated to be undocumented workers.

5. One half of undocumented working men here are single. But a phenomenal 94% of undocumented men work compared to 83% for native Americans. Undocumented women participate much less than native women in the workforce (54% vs. 72%) This explains th image of a very large single male workforce as the tpyical undocumented immigrant.

March 6, 2006

Study: Fatal occupational injuries among Asian workers

There is a one in four chance that a victim of grocery store robbery-related murder will be Asian, and a foreign born Asian at that.

In her report on Asian worker fatalities in the October 2005 issue of the Monthly Labor Review, Jessica Sincavage notes that between 1999 and 2003, 775 workers of Asian descent suffered fatal work fatalities, which equals 3 percent of all work fataltites in the given time frame. More than half of Asian worker fatalities were the result of an assault or violent act, far higher than for all fatalities (10%).

Who are the Asians who die at work? Indians, 23%; Koreans, 18%; and Vietnamese, 14%, are the three largest nationalities.

she writes:

Continue reading "Study: Fatal occupational injuries among Asian workers" »

March 4, 2006

Data on immigrants (2000 - 2005)

The Center for Immigration Studies has summarized the findings of the March 2005 issue of the Current Population Survey (CPS). I include a few of the highlights below, from its December 2005 study, Immigrants at Mid-Decade: A Snapshot of America's Foreign-Born Population in 2005

The 35.2 million immigrants (legal and illegal) living in the country in March 2005 is the highest number ever recorded -- two and a half times the 13.5 million during the peak of the last great immigration wave in 1910.

Between January 2000 and March 2005, 7.9 million new immigrants (legal and illegal) settled in the country, making it the highest five-year period of immigration in American history.

Nearly half of post-2000 arrivals (3.7 million) are estimated to be illegal aliens.

Immigrants account for 12.1 percent of the total population, the highest percentage in eight decades. If current trends continue, within a decade it will surpass the high of 14.7 percent reached in 1910.

Of adult immigrants, 31 percent have not completed high school, three-and-a-half times the rate for natives. Since 1990, immigration has increased the number of such workers by 25 percent, while increasing the supply of all other workers by 6 percent.

February 27, 2006

The day laborer: characteristics of the individual

This is my fourth extract of data from On the Corner, the nationwide survey of day laborers. Most day laborers are Mexican, and did not know about day labor before coming to the U.S. Tenure in the U.S.: 19% under one year; 41% between 1 and 5 years. Tenure in the day labor market: 44% for less than one year. The overwhelming majority (86%) are seeking regular employment. In fact, 57% have previously held regular jobs in the past, mainly in construction, restaurants and manufacturing, and day labor work for them appears to be a transition to another regular job. Thu many move in and out of regular employment.

Over half have been married, and 29% have children born in the U.S. and thus U.S. citizens. Schooling: 53% have no more than 8th grade education; 42% have between 9 and 12 years of education.

In my earlier postings, I described the high injury rate, wage scales, and types of day laborer employers.

February 25, 2006

New study on economics of rural immigrant workers

Thanks to the Immigration LawProf blog for alerting me to a new study of immigrants in rural areas.

The Urban Institute has come out with a new book on rural poverty in America, and the effect of rural migration by immigrants.

It describes The New Rural Poverty: Agriculture and Immigration in California as follows:

Migrants arrive, many from Mexico, to fill jobs on farms and in farm-related industries, usually at earnings below the poverty. Leaders of rural industries are adamant that a steady influx of foreign workers is necessary for economic survival. But the integration of these newcomers is uneven: many immigrants achieve some measure of the American dream, but others find persistent poverty, overcrowded housing, and crime. The New Rural Poverty examines the effect of rural immigration on inland agricultural areas in California, farm areas in coastal California, and meat and poultry processing centers in Delaware and Iowa. The authors examine the interdependencies between immigrants and agriculture in the United States, explore the policy challenges and options, and assess how current proposals for immigration reform will affect rural America.

The New Rural Poverty: Agriculture and Immigration in California, by Philip Martin, Michael Fix, and J. Edward Taylor, is available from the Urban Institute Press

February 19, 2006

2004 Green card awardees: what work they do

Not available for technical reasons.

February 17, 2006

Number of undocumented workers by state and their workforce share

I can now provide an estimate of the number of undocumented workers in each state and their share of that state's totwl workforce.

The Pew Hispanic Center issued in March, 2005 an estimate of the size and characteristics of the undocumented population in the county as of March 2005.

The Pew report says that in 2004 there were 7 million undocumented workers out of a total undocumented population of 10.3 million. This comes to a workforce – to – population percentage of 68%. This is extremely high compared to national figures of close to 60% and reflects the reality that most undocumented people are here to work.

I used Pew’s figures for March, 2005, and – applying growth rates that it found for the recent past -- I extrapolated them to find a January 1, 2006 undocumented workforce of 7.3 million. Per Pew, The undocumented worker population is growing at about 300,000 per year (net of entrants and exiting persons), out of a net total undocumented immigrant growth of 500,000 per the Pew Hispanic Center. The workforce growth is close to 4% annually, far ahead of the growth of the American citizen workforce.

This comes to about 4.9% of the American workforce, which is about 150 million. I have estimated for each state the number of undocumented workers and their share of the state’s workforce as of December 2005.

You can read the rows below as follows. Take Florida for example. The total undocumented workforce in January 2006 is about 621,743. This is 7.1% of Florida’s workforce. What about the 14.2% figure? – See below.

Continue reading "Number of undocumented workers by state and their workforce share" »

February 16, 2006

Wall Street Journal article on Brazilian immigrant cleaning business in MA

Today's Wall Street Journal profiles Brazilian home cleaning businesses in MA. The businesses are so well developed that a buy-sell market has emerged; the Internet is used to communicate and clients; and Craig’s list is used to recruit workers. The hub of the cleaning business is in Somerville, MA, which according to the Boston Globe’s analysis of census data, 31% of new immigrants are Portuguese speaking (Brazilian or Portuguese). We have already profiled the Brazilian Immigrant Center.

Tufts University is undertaking a collaborative multi-year project in Somerville to study and support economic growth among immigrants. Included in the project is the introduction of “green” cleaning materials for cleaning businesses.

Among a number of initiatives, this project

.... will also break new ground by launching an entirely new business model for immigrant workers: a non-profit green cleaning cooperative that will help to break down the barrier of isolation faced by these workers. "Brazilian women cleaners form a large occupational group working and living in Somerville who can benefit from this new structure and by learning about safe work practices and the benefits of using environmentally friendly cleaning products," said Monica Chianelli, coordinator, Brazilian Women's Group.
"Immigrants have accounted for 82 percent of the growth of the labor force in Massachusetts since the mid 1980s. Somerville, which has seen the number of foreign-born residents grow by 34 percent in 10 years, is an important gateway for newcomers," explained Principal Investigator David M. Gute, associate professor of civil and environmental engineering at Tufts University and an epidemiologist.

February 13, 2006

Where immigrant workers live in the United States

The Migration Immigration Source makes available online a huge amount of data on foreign-born residents of the United States, as mostly reported through the 2000 census. Dated in some instances as that may be, one can use the website quickly to find where foreign-born people of any nationality live in each state or region.

How many immigrants are employed? Let's say 40%. I'll look into it. I haven't found a better estimate.

I did two quick searches, on Thai immigrants throughout the country, and Russians living in the Northeast and in particular New York.

Thai immigrants in the United States: In 2000, throughout the United States there were 169,801. Of this total, 37% lived in California; next highest is Minnesota at 5%.
Russian immigrants in the Northeast and New York: According to the 2000 census, there were 153,596 foreign born from Russia in the Northeast. The foreign born from Russia represented 2.1% of the Northeast's total foreign-born population of 7.2 million. Of the 53.6 million people in the Northeast, the foreign born from Russia accounted for 0.3% of the total population. The foreign born from Russia in the Northeast constituted 45.2% of the 340,177 foreign born from Russia in the United States, and Russians in New York constituted 27.8% of foreign born from Russia in the United States.

February 10, 2006

H-1B visas and the engineering workforce shortage, per Chair of Intel

Craig Barrett, Chair of Intel, recently wrote a commentary for the Financial Times (payment required) and afterwards responded to reader questions.

Begun in 1998, the H-1B program has annual caps which in 2003 was 195,000. In 2004 the cap was cut to 65,000. As of 2004, close to 1,000,000 H-1B visa holders were believed to be working in the United States, up from about 360,000 in 1998. This means an annual addition of about 150,000 workers a year into the American workforce.

Compare this stream to the supply of engineers coming from American higher education (many of whom are foreigners)? In 2004, there were about 70,000 bachelor, 40,000 master, and 6,000 doctoral degrees were awarded by American colleges and universities. This is from the American Society of Engineering Education

H1B Visa (Professional in a Specialty Occupation) allows a U.S. employer to fill a position requiring the minimum of a baccalaureate in the particular field with a qualified worker from abroad. The foreign worker must possess that U.S. degree or an acceptable foreign alternative. In some cases, a combination of studies and relevant experience may substitute for the degree if it is determined by a credentials expert to qualify the foreign professional. The large majority of H1B visa holders are believed to be engineers.

Per Barrett:

Continue reading "H-1B visas and the engineering workforce shortage, per Chair of Intel" »

February 9, 2006

High future demand for immigrant construction workers

Demand for immigrants in the construction field has been strong since the mid 1990s and will continue to be for several reasons. (1) New and replacement construction will continue to grow, though experts say at a lower rate. (2) Among many construction jobs there is a high turnover rate, and employers have constantly to search for new hires. (3) Demographics will continue to bring construction to areas of the country where there is a high level already of immigrant workers in construction.

In a keynote address at a construction risk management conference on trends and emerging issues, Huge Rice of FMI forecasted high construction activityin the United States, in part due to demographic shifts in age and residential location. Between 2002 and 2012, he forecasted 1.1 million new construction projects involving 1.4 “retirements/defections” and 2.5 million replacements/new entrants. Rice specifically addressed the Hispanic construction workforce. He noted the demographics of the country and the southwest, where Hispanics now make up about a third to a half of all construction labor:

New Mexico 48%
Texas 45%
California 34%
Florida 21%

Total nationwide Hispanic employment in construction rose between 1980 and 2000:

1980 342,000
1990 650,000
1995 782,000
2000 1,408,000

Three quarters of these Hispanic workers are of Mexican descent.

The Federal government addressed construction labor growth in a number of accessible studies, including one in 2002 and a set in the November, 2005 issue of the Monthly Labor Review.

According to the Department of Labor, construction jobs grew at an annual rate of 3.1% between and 2004. DOL expects much slower growth between 2004 and 2014, about 1.1% annually. However, in terms of total jobs added in that period, 792,000, construction will be the fourth largest contributor to job growth (after retail, employment services, food services, and medical offices). Residential construction, where immigrant labor tends to congregate, is expected to grow in dollars by 1.8% . annually. Construction workers make up slightly under 5% of the domestic civilian workforce.

February 2, 2006

Size of the illegal alien population (2000 - 2005)

We will be addressing this matter multiple times as we explore in the future alternative ways of measuring the size of this population. This posting focuses on methods of measurement.

The Center for Immigration Studies summarizes how the Federal Current Population Survey handles this matter, in its Immigrants at Mid-Decade: A Snapshot of America's Foreign-Born Population in 2005.

It is well established that illegal aliens do respond to government surveys such as the decennial census and the Current Population Survey. While the CPS does not ask the foreign-born if they are legal residents of the United States, the Urban Institute, the former INS, the Pew Hispanic Center, and the Census Bureau have all used socio-demographic characteristics in the data to estimate the size of the illegal population.15 Our preliminary estimates for the March 2005 CPS indicate that there were between 9.6 and 9.8 million illegal aliens in the survey. It must be remembered that this estimate only includes illegal aliens captured by the March CPS, not those missed by the survey. By design this estimate is consistent with those prepared by the Census Bureau, Immigration and Nationalization Service (INS), Urban Institute, and Pew Hispanic Center.16 While consistent with other research findings, it should be obvious that there is no definitive means of determining whether a respondent in the survey is an illegal alien with 100 percent certainty. We estimate that in 2000, based on the March 2000 CPS, that there were between seven and 7.2 million illegal aliens in the survey. This means about 2.5 to 2.7 million, or about half of the 5.2 million growth in the foreign born between 2000 and 2005 was due to growth in the illegal population. We also estimate that 3.6 to 3.8 million or almost half of the 7.9 million new arrivals are illegal immigrants.

January 30, 2006

Where undocumented immigrants live and work

In January 2004,the Urban Institute published a useful overview of the undocumented population in the United States. Go here for the entire report.

The Institute estimated there were at that time 9.3 million immigrants, of which 6 million were workers. 96% of men work and 62% of women work.

Breakdown of the total population of undocumented immigrants is:

U.S. total (in millions) 9.3; California, 2.4; Texas, 1.1; Florida, 0.9; New York, 0.7; Illinois, 0.4; New Jersey, 0.4; all others, all others, 3.5.