Foreign born labor force now back to pre-COVID trend

The foreign born labor force (18-64 year olds) today is about 30.5 million.  Prior to the pandemic, it rose about 2% a year, compared to 0.5% annual growth of the U.S. born labor force. That’s today going forward about a 0.6 million a year of more foreign born workers and about 0.5 million more U.S. born workers a year. During the first two years of the pandemic, the foreign born labor force lost about 1.5 million members, but that loss has been restored and we are back at the 2% per year trend line.

To put this trend into context: the total 25 to 54 year old labor force participation rate rose consderably in the five years before the pandemic, and since 2021 has risen sharply, to the highest level in recent history (83.5%),  Average wages have been growing at about 0.4% a month (5% annually) and the unemployment rate is at a low for all groups. Hispanic unemployment rate is the lowest rate perhaps ever. The fertility rate of foreign born women has been higher than of U.S. born women, and above replacement rate; thus young entrants into the labor force are disproportionately children of immigrants.

And, the workforce age (15 – 64) as percentage of total population, which was roughly 66% for a long time, is in the process of a steep decline to about 61% in the mid 2030s. 66% of 310M in 2010 means 205M; 61% of 380 in 2035 means 231M, indicating an average workforce growth of one million a year.

Biden’s immigratation proposals implicitly aim for an increase of roughly 50% in the annual addition of the foreign born to the labor force.

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