Temporary decline in immigration had limited impact job market

The researchers wrote: “At the start of the pandemic in February 2020, there were 13.6 million non-US citizen (immigrant) workers. By April 2020, that number had fallen to 12.2 million: Roughly 1.4 million fewer immigrant workers were in the labor force.

After the pandemic, however, the economic recovery was unprecedently sharp, with the unemployment rate returning to pre-pandemic levels by July 2022.2 Additionally, the vacancy-to-unemployment ratio, a measure of labor market tightness, was unusually high, peaking at 2.63 in April 2022.”

PFR:  the count of foreign born has fluctuated much since the late 2010s and this is one example, so it needs to be taken with a grain of salt. That said, the workforce in early 2020 was about 165 million. The research essentially shows that a reduction by 1.4 million in the workforce was not enough to have any material impact on scarcity of workers except where the share of workers who are non-citizen immigrants is high – which is in the food services industry.

Very roughly 30% of cooks in the U.S. are foreign born and 25% of all other food services workers are foreign born.  This is a highly mobile, high turn over workforce, willing to switch jobs for better conditions, probably much faster than in other lines of work which employ a lot of foreign born workers such as farming and IT. 18% of all workers are foreign born (including naturalized and non-naturalized).


Who is supplying new workers to the European working age population?

In spite of relatively low population shares of migrants in Europe, the increase in the European labor supply from 2006 to 2018 was driven by migrants and by foreign-born persons in particular.

In the EU as a whole, the total labor force increased by 4.2 percent between 2006 and 2018 (i.e, an average annual increase of 0.33%). Given that natives’ contribution to this variation was almost zero, the entire increase in the total labor force is attributable to migrants. At the same time, the aggregate labor force participation rate rose by 5.2 percent in comparison to the 2006 level as a result of native-born persons’ limited contribution (by 0.9 percent) and foreign-born persons’ large contribution (4.3 percent). In other words, the growth in EU labor supply from 2006 to 2018, in terms of either the total labor force or the aggregate labor force participation rates, was driven by migrants.

The shifting contribution of foreign-born labor was influenced by a number of factors, including a demographic shift towards an older overall population, changes in work participation by older native born workers, the size of the foreign-born population, and the work participation rate of the foreign born. Generally, the increase in older person participation did not make up for a decline in total younger workers.

Among native born workers, there occurred an increase in the numbers of persons on the relatively old side of the working age population (in their 50s and 60s) and a higher work participation rate for them. Thus the meager growth of the native population in the workforce was disproportionately driven by older workers.

Norway, Italy and Germany were the most affected by a decline in the labor participation rate of natives – a 10% reduction in Norway,

In Sweden, non-migrants contributed 0.7 percent to the increase in the total labor force, whereas migrants’ contribution was 11.4 percent, for a total increase of 12.1% (that is, an average annual increase of about 1% a year). In Italy, the shrinkage in the native-born labor force would have resulted in a decrease in the total labor force by −1.8 percent, but through migrants’ positive effect (7.2 percent), the total workforce increased by 5.4 percent.  Only in the Netherlands was the native born increase in the workforce greater than the foreign-born; in France, the contributions were equal.

From International Migration Review, Christos Bagavos, How Much Does Migration Affect Labor Supply in Europe? 2023


Time line for Trump’s child separation policy

The best documented story of the Trump Administration’s child separation policy’s origins, implementation and deception was written by Caitlin Dickerson in the Atlantic in December, 2022 (go here). Here is a transcript of Dickerson recounting how she did her research.

The Trump Administration took office on January 20, 2017. It appears to have immediately started to plan to separate children from their parents when both crossed the U.S. border without permission (i.e. not at an official border crossing).

February 17, 2017– An interagency meeting was held to discuss a plan.

Reuters reported on March 3 that such a plan was under consideration, other news outlets also reported on the plan.

On March 29, 2017 Homeland Security Secretary John Kelly denied that the administration was planning to separate children from parents. His statement was part of a program of deception which lasted for months after the plan was implemented.

Early 2017: Border Patrol agents in El Paso, began a program that involved separating children from parent upon DHS – mandated policy for arrest and detainment of families.  The first formal document unearthed for this policy is dated later, July 10. Additional documents indicate that Border Patrol personnel along the length of the border gradually learned about and began to implement the policy.

April 6, 2018 – Attorney General Jeff Sessions announced a “zero tolerance” policy directing authorities to prosecute all instances of illegal border crossings. On May 7, Sessions announced that the Department of Homeland Security would refer 100% of illegal border crossings to the Department of Justice for prosecution. This expands the policy of separating families. These statements were effectively the first highly visible, non-ambiguous publicized statements made by the Administration on the policy.

June, 2018. Media, church, and political concern explode. The ACLU files a class action suit, which is the basis of the ultimate settlement (see below).

June 20, 2018 –  President Trump signed Executive Order 13841 to end family separations at the border. However, the EO does not address reuniting families already separated.

June 26, 2018 – A federal judge ordered that separated children under five years must be reunited with their parents within 14 days, and all children must be reunited by July 26.

February 22, 2021 – the Biden Administration issues Executive Order 14011 establishing a task force to reunite all children not yet reunited.

September 15, 2023 – the Biden task force reports: 4,227 children were separated between spring 2017 and June, 2018. Between then and February 22, 2021, 2,222 or 53% of the children had been reunited. Another 904 were reunited by September. 15, 2023. The remaining 1,101 were on September 15 in process of being reunited or believed to be in the right hands.

October 16, 2023– Biden Administration settles ACLU’s lawsuit. According to the LA Times, people who were separated from their families would qualify for lawful entry, three-year, renewable work permits, and housing, health and legal services benefits. They would be able to apply for asylum regardless of previous denils, and wouldn’t be subject to the usual one year asylum application deadline.





Democrats can no longer depend as much on non-white ethnic and racial groups

Biden’s appeal to non-write voters, according to the Nate Cohn of NY Times, appears to be about 63-29 today.  The Democratic candidate received around 70-75% of the non-white vote in 2000, around 80% in 2012, and 74-75% in 2016.

Here: Demographic groups that backed Mr. Biden by landslide margins in 2020 are now far more closely contested, as two-thirds of the electorate sees the country moving in the wrong direction.

Voters under 30 favor Mr. Biden by only a single percentage point, his lead among Hispanic voters is down to single digits and his advantage in urban areas is half of Mr. Trump’s edge in rural regions. And Overall, nonwhite respondents who divulged their vote in the last election reported backing Mr. Biden by a margin of 70 percent to 24 percent, a figure neatly in line with postelection studies. While women still favored Mr. Biden, men preferred Mr. Trump by twice as large a margin, reversing the gender advantage that had fueled so many Democratic gains in recent years.

Black voters — long a bulwark for Democrats and for Mr. Biden — are now registering 22 percent support in these states for Mr. Trump, a level unseen in presidential politics for a Republican in modern times.

Here: Mr. Biden’s weakness among nonwhite voters is broad, spanning virtually every demographic category and racial group, including a 72-11 lead among Black voters and a 47-35 lead among Hispanic registrants. The sample of Asian voters is not large enough to report, though nonwhite voters who aren’t Black or Hispanic — whether Asian, Native American, multiracial or something else — back Mr. Biden by just 40-39. In all three cases, Mr. Biden’s tallies are well beneath his standing in the last election.

Young people of color, who make up a disproportionate share of nonvoters, are an important part of Mr. Biden’s challenge. He holds a 48-29 lead among nonwhite registered voters under age 45, compared with a 58-28 lead among those over 45.



Hong Kong birth rate in steep decline

The Wall Street Journal reports that the fertility rate of Hong Kong today is 0.8. “The number of children being born in Hong Kong each year has been in steady decline since 2014, but the decrease quickened to an almost 40% drop between 2019 and 2022, falling from 52,900 to 32,500 births last year, according to government data.

The proportion of women in Hong Kong who don’t have children more than doubled to 43% in 2022 from five years ago, according to a survey by The Family Planning Association of Hong Kong. Around 40% of young women who didn’t want children said the city isn’t suitable for child development, up from 16% in 2011.”

World population trends and global migration

Ross Douthat in the NY Times writes, “whatever you see happening in Europe now is just the initial stage of the defining world revolution of the 21st century — the rapid graying of rich countries (and soon, not-so-rich ones) joined to the great migrations from the more youthful regions of the world…. the dilemma of the 21st century isn’t how Earth will feed an ever-growing population, but how the world will deal with a potential mass rebalancing of population via migration, an altered wealth-and-people equilibrium, in a world where technology is making the movement of peoples easier than ever.”

This is the first time that I’ve seen in a major American publication the global migration issues of the 21st Century concisely presented. Let’s break his observation down into several key themes:

…The movement of peoples easier than ever.” In my post “key driver of global migration: costs have declined,” I cite three drivers over the past 50 years that Paul Collier specified: the costs of international movement; the costs of settlement, and the costs of keeping in touch with the host country. African taxi drivers in Washington DC tell me they routinely back for stretches — their nuclear families live there.  Smart phones have accelerated theses trends in the past 15 years.

The rapid graying of rich countries (and soon, not-so-rich ones)”.  Most of the word’s population is living in counties where the fertility rate is below replacement (2.1), with India being the most recent major population bloc.

Potential mass rebalancing of population via migration.” African populations are growing as a vastly greater rate (over 4) than other continents (under 2.1, and 1.5 in the EU). Emigration from Africa has been surging. These are not just poorly skilled refugees. Nigerian immigrants to the U.S. are the most highly educated immigrant group today (go here and here).



One thing that Douthat (and many others) miss is that immigration is not some magic wand to combat the aging crisis. The demographics of migration are more complex. They are multi-generational. Here I note that immigrants to the U.S., having on average aged a bit, are by being in child-bearing age contributing more babies. Thus a 30 year old immigrant family will produce children today who will enter the American workforce in about 2045.

Time line of large scale ICE enforcement raids on workplaces

These raids were begun under the George W Bush administration, terminated under Obama, and (one instance) brought back under Trump.  Trump is planning mass arrests if he becomes president in 2025.

April, 2006. Several factories of IFCO, a manufacturer of crates and pallet facilities, we raided with arrests of about 1,100 workers and some management staff.

December 2006: Swift meat processing plants are raided. The raids took place at plants in Greeley, Colorado; Grand Island, Nebraska; Cactus, Texas; Hyrum, Utah; Marshalltown, Iowa; and Worthington, Minnesota.1,300 ICE agents were involved in the raids, resulting  in the arrests of nearly 1,300 undocumented immigrant workers.

March, 2007.  New Bedford MA clothing factory owned by Michael Bianco Inc raided resulting in about 350 arrests. Here is Senator Ted Kennedy’s statement about the raid.

May, 2008 Raid on Agriprocessors meat processing plant in Postville IA results in arrest of 1,000 workers.

October 2008, Greenville, SC meat processing plant of House of Raeford raided with arrest of about 350 workers,

July 2009 ICE enforcement action against American Apparel, with over 1,000 unauthorized workers, shows shift in enforcement from mass raids to financial penalties. Here abd here are postings about the shift in focus.

April, 2018. Bean Station, TN factory of Southeastern Provision, a family run meat processing plant, raided resulting in the arrest of about 100 workers.

Trump’s plan for immigration in his second term

The NY Times reports on Trump’s plan were he to be elected president next year:

Mass deportation: Tom Homan, who ran ICE for the first year and a half of the Trump administration and supported child separation,  said he told Mr. Trump he would “help to organize and run the largest deportation operation this country’s ever seen.” More broadly, Mr. Miller said a new Trump administration would shift from the ICE practice of arresting specific people to carrying out workplace raids and other sweeps in public places aimed at arresting scores of unauthorized immigrants at once. There are about 11 million unauthorized persons in the U.S. Mr. Trump wants to build huge camps to detain people while their cases are processed and they await deportation flights.

Revocation of visas: The visas of foreign students who participated in anti-Israel or pro-Palestinian protests would be canceled. People who were granted temporary protected status because they are from certain countries deemed unsafe, allowing them to lawfully live and work in the United States, would have that status revoked. This would apply to humanitarian parole beneficiaries such as from Afghanistan, Ukraine, and Venezuela.

Ideological screening: U.S. consular officials abroad will be directed to expand ideological screening of visa applicants to block people the Trump administration considers to have undesirable attitudes.

Birthright citizenship: Trump would try to end birthright citizenship for babies born in the United States to undocumented parents.  That policy’s legal legitimacy, like nearly all of Mr. Trump’s plans, would be virtually certain to end up before the Supreme Court.

Tactics: plan was crafted to need no new substantive legislation. And while acknowledging that lawsuits would arise to challenge nearly every one of them, Trump immigration aide Stephen Miller portrayed to the NY Times the Trump team’s daunting array of tactics as a “blitz” designed to overwhelm immigrant-rights lawyers.

Rhetoric: As he has campaigned for the party’s third straight presidential nomination, his anti-immigrant tone has only grown harsher. In a recent interview with a right-wing website, Mr. Trump claimed without evidence that foreign leaders were deliberately emptying their “insane asylums” to send the patients across America’s southern border as migrants.



Working age population trends U.S., Germany, Canada and China

Between 2010 and 2020, the working age population (15-64) in Germany declined by 2% or one million, and increased in the U.S. by 0.5 % or nine million. Canada’s working age population rose by 4% or 800,000.  Canada likely had the highest rate of working age population increase among all advanced economies, thanks to its aggressive immigration policy that results in an immigration flow three times that of the U.S. on a comparable population basis.

This population increased in China by 6% or 75 million between 2010 and 2020. In China the working age population likely hit its peak in about 2015, and the 2030 figure is expected to be 880 million, a 110 million or 11% decline.

Immigration to keep up the size of the workforce, and avoid decline, is essential in most or all advanced countries.


Wealth in America by race / ethnicity: very recent trends

The Federal Reserve reports on the growth and distribution of wealth from 2019 through 2022, drawing from the 2022 Survey of Consumer Finances (SCF).  Note the relatively very high wealth of Asian households.  I have found no reliable analysis of why Asians are so wealthy. In the past 10 – 20 years, new Asian immigrants are far better educated that white and other groups in the U.S. which may have translated into higher incomes allowing for housing purchases and equity investments.

Two dominant drivers of wealth since the Great Recession are the stock market (Dow Jones 10/2009 was under $14,000, now over $33,000) and housing prices (median price October 2009 $214,000; October 2023, $416,000).  Any household who new ability to buy a home or invest in stocks rode these waves.  

I have posted on the economic rise of Hispanic households (here and here) and the educational powerhouse of Asians (here).



From the Fed’s report

[On real wealth—the difference between assets and liabilities in 2022]. Median wealth (the amount held by a typical family, shown in the top panel) among White families was $285,000 in 2022. By comparison, the typical Asian family—who we can split out for the first time in 2022 because of an oversample of certain non-White groups—held $536,000, nearly twice that of the typical White family. Meanwhile, the wealth of the typical Black family ($44,900) was only about 15 percent of the typical White family. The typical Hispanic family similarly held only about 20 percent of the wealth of the typical White family (about $61,600).

Between 2019 and 2022, wealth for the typical Black family rose 61 percent and for the typical Hispanic family it rose 47 percent….while the typical White family saw a 31 percent increase. However, despite faster growth in wealth for the typical Black and Hispanic family, the absolute dollar-value differences in wealth between the typical White and the typical Black and Hispanic family grew in 2022 because the typical Black and Hispanic family had less wealth in 2019. Both the White-Black and the White-Hispanic median wealth gaps increased by around $50,000 between 2019 and 2022, with each gap reaching over $220,000 in 2022.

Since the Great Recession the typical Black and Hispanic family has had between about $10 to $15 of wealth for every $100 held by the typical White family (Figure 3). This ratio has closed only modestly in the past two surveys. The typical Black family went from having about $9 in wealth for every $100 held by the typical White family in 2013 to around $16 in 2022; the typical Hispanic family went from having about $10 in wealth for every $100 held by the typical White family in 2013 to around $22 in 2022.

Most notable is the increase in net housing wealth—the market value of a family’s home minus any outstanding loans secured by the home—among all groups, but particularly for Black and Hispanic families. In part, the larger increase for Black and Hispanic families reflects the fact that these families tend to have higher leverage ratios, which amplifies the effect of rising prices on wealth, though it also reflects an increase in homeownership rates among these families.

Black and Hispanic families the gains in wealth were concentrated in housing, which is somewhat illiquid and may not be as useful as liquid wealth for covering recurring expenses. As shown in Figure 4, real average liquid wealth, which includes assets such as cash, checking, and savings accounts, did not grow much for Hispanic families and fell for Black families.

[Summary] Overall, the SCF depicts a complex account of families’ finances and disparities across race and ethnicity. Broad-based gains in wealth across race and ethnicity have narrowed wealth ratios somewhat over the past three years, but income ratios widened slightly. In particular, incomes for non-White families were propped up by temporary sources, like government support, that have ended, with real wages stagnant, on average, for Black and Hispanic families. While most families were able to meet their required payments, families, especially non-White families, have grown more pessimistic and uncertain about the current and future state of both their own finances and the economy. The recent improvements in wealth ratios across races is promising, but families’ increased financial uncertainty suggests continued improvements may not persist in the future.