The unheralded rise of immigrant worker status since 2000

Compared to 2000, the foreign-born workforce today is a greater share of the total workforce (from 12.7% to 17.4%), is much better educated, and has narrowed the gap with native American wages.

These trends affect American society more than is understand by the established media. I believe this rise plays a role in white “distress.” The immigrant population has gained on whites in social and economic status.

The rise is driven in part by the role of foreign-born workers in the American information technology industry and medicine; by increasing migration from Asia, and by leveling off of net immigration from Latin America (although recent Hispanic immigrants are much better educated than in the past).

The foreign/native worker disparity in median wages narrowed 2000 to 2019, from 29% lower to 15% lower (males):

The share of all foreign-born with less than a high school degree declined from 33% to 24% (still very high). The share of those with at least a college degree rose from 26% to 35%. Note the reversal:

Karl Marx said societies (economic and social relations, politics) are led by their most advanced “process of production.” Since 2000, migrating workers have focused more on our most advanced process: knowledge work. Nationwide, one quarter of practicing doctors are foreign born, and 23% of all science and engineering workers are foreign born (40% in California).

Most data for 2000 and 2019. Data on science and engineering here.

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