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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.

October 21, 2012

Dream Act: employment and economic impact

The Partnership for the New American Economy issued an important report in October on the economic results of the Dream Act, if enacted.

“The Economic Benefits of Passing the DREAM Act," by Juan Carlos Guzmán and Raúl C. Jara, draws upon the current versions of the DREAM Act submitted by Sen. Richard Durbin (S.952) and Rep. Howard Berman (H.R. 1842).

To be eligible, an undocumented person has to have come to the United States at age 15 or younger, be currently age 35 or younger, have been present in the country for at least five years, completed high school, and completed at least two years of higher education or honorably served in the armed forces for at least two years.

Eligible immigrants per the Act first receive conditional legal status for a period of six years, under which they can complete their studies and work legally in the United States. After that period, if they have met all of the requirements, they can apply for permanent legal status (a green card) and eventually citizenship

The authors forecast that by 2030 the Act will create 1.4 million new jobs, and increase by 19% the total compensation of all eligible youth. How will this happen?

First, enacting the law would provide an incentive for their further education because for most of those who would be eligible the legalization provisions can only be attained through completion of high school and some college. Receiving more education opens access to higher-paying jobs, enabling these undocumented youth to become much more productive members of our society.

Second, gaining legal status itself translates into higher earnings for these youth since legal status allows DREAMers to apply to a broader range of high-paying jobs rather than having to resort to low-wage jobs from employers who are willing to pay them under the table.

According to the authors, this will not take away jobs from native born Americans:

First, many economists find that immigrants tend to complement the skills of native workers rather than compete with them, especially as immigrants move up the education and skills chain. Increasing the education of immigrant workers would therefore decrease the competition between DREAMers and the native-born.

Second, research shows that an increase in college-educated immigrants directly increases U.S. gross domestic product—the largest measure of economic growth—which correlates to more jobs for American workers. In the 1990s, for example, the increase in college-educated immigrants was found to be responsible for a 1.4% to 2.4% in U.S. GDP.


October 17, 2012

Race matters in award of workers comp benefits

A new study reveals that injured construction workers in Illinois received higher workers’ compensation payments than their Hispanic or black counterparts – to the tune of an additional $6,000.

EHS Today reported on the study, which was published in the Journal of Occupational and Environmental Medicine.

Per the magazine, researchers at the University of Illinois at Chicago School of Public Health assessed ethnic disparities among construction workers injured on the job by linking medical records data from the Illinois Department of Public Health and workers' compensation data from the Illinois Workers' Compensation Commission between 2000 and 2005. In all, they evaluated 1,039 injury cases, including 724 white construction workers, 68 black, 168 Hispanic and 79 workers of other ethnicities.

They found that white, non-Hispanic construction workers in Illinois were awarded higher settlements – approximately $6,000 more – than Hispanic or black workers with similar injuries. The settlements for white workers were substantially higher despite controlling for average weekly wage, type of injury, injury severity, weeks of temporary disability, percent permanent partial disability, and whether or not the worker used an attorney – all factors that are known to contribute to the final decision for monetary compensation in the claims process.

White construction workers consistently were awarded the higher monetary settlements despite the fact that the mean percent permanent partial disability was equivalent to or lower than that in black and Hispanic construction workers, according to the study's authors. This was true for amputations, torso injuries, open wounds of the upper extremity and traumatic brain injury. The most common types of injuries for all workers were fractures, internal injuries, and open wounds.

The study does not explain why white construction workers would receive higher compensation, said Lee Friedman, assistant professor of environmental and occupational health sciences at UIC and lead author of the study.

"One explanation is that there is some systemic bias or prejudices occurring within the system," he said. "Or, it could be that the level of information and knowledge about how the system works – and what can actually be litigated, disputed, or requested for compensation – might vary by ethnic group."