Labor Force Characteristics of Foreign-born Workers Summary

For release 10:00 a.m. (EDT) Thursday, May 22, 2014                           USDL-14-0873

Technical information: (202) 691-6378    cpsinfo@bls.gov    www.bls.gov/cps
Media contact:         (202) 691-5902    PressOffice@bls.gov


                   FOREIGN-BORN WORKERS: LABOR FORCE CHARACTERISTICS -- 2013


The unemployment rate for the foreign born in the United States was 6.9 percent
in 2013, down from 8.1 percent in 2012, the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics reported
today. The jobless rate for the native born fell to 7.5 percent in 2013, also down
from 8.1 percent in the prior year.

Data on nativity are collected as part of the Current Population Survey (CPS), a
monthly sample survey of approximately 60,000 households. The foreign born are
those who reside in the United States but who were born outside the country or
one of its outlying areas to parents who were not U.S. citizens. The foreign born
include legally-admitted immigrants, refugees, temporary residents such as students
and temporary workers, and undocumented immigrants. The survey data, however, do
not separately identify the numbers of persons in these categories. For further
information about the survey, see the Technical Note.

Highlights from the 2013 data:

   --In 2013, there were 25.3 million foreign-born persons in the U.S. labor force,
     comprising 16.3 percent of the total. (See table 1.)

   --Hispanics accounted for 47.8 percent of the foreign-born labor force in 2013
     and Asians accounted for 24.3 percent. (See table 1.) (Data in this news release
     for persons who are white, black, or Asian do not include those of Hispanic or
     Latino ethnicity. Data on persons of Hispanic or Latino ethnicity are presented
     separately.)

   --Foreign-born workers were more likely than native-born workers to be employed in
     service occupations and less likely to be employed in management, professional,
     and related occupations and in sales and office occupations. (See table 4.)

   --The median usual weekly earnings of foreign-born full-time wage and salary
     workers were $643 in 2013, compared with $805 for their native-born counterparts.
     (See table 5.) (Differences in earnings reflect a variety of factors, including
     variations in the distributions of foreign-born and native-born workers by
     educational attainment, occupation, industry, and geographic region.)

Demographic Characteristics

The demographic composition of the foreign-born labor force differs from the native-born
labor force. In 2013, men accounted for 57.7 percent of the foreign-born labor force,
compared with 52.3 percent of the native-born labor force. By age, the proportion of the
foreign-born labor force made up of 25- to 54-year-olds (74.6 percent) was higher than
for the native-born labor force (63.0 percent). Labor force participation is typically
highest among persons in that age bracket. (See table 1.)

In 2013, nearly half (47.8 percent) of the foreign-born labor force was Hispanic, and
almost one-quarter (24.3 percent) was Asian, compared with 9.7 percent and 1.7 percent,
respectively, of the native-born labor force. About 17.7 percent of the foreign-born
labor force was white and 9.0 percent was black, compared with 74.4 percent and 11.7
percent, respectively, of the native-born labor force.

In 2013, 24.3 percent of the foreign-born labor force age 25 and over had not completed
high school, compared with 4.8 percent of the native-born labor force. The foreign born
were less likely than the native born to have some college or an associate degree--17.1
percent versus 30.1 percent. The proportions for foreign-born and native-born persons
that had a bachelor's degree or higher were more similar, at 33.8 percent and 37.5
percent, respectively.

Labor Force

The share of the U.S. civilian labor force that was foreign born was 16.3 percent in
2013, about the same as in 2012 but up from 13.3 percent in 2000. (See table 1.)

In 2013, the labor force participation rate of the foreign born was 66.4 percent,
compared with 62.7 percent for the native born. The participation rate for the foreign
born was about the same as in 2012, while that for the native born continued to trend
down. By gender, the participation rate of foreign-born men was 78.8 percent in 2013,
higher than the rate of 68.0 percent for native-born men. In contrast, 54.6 percent
of foreign-born women were labor force participants, compared with 57.7 percent of
native-born women.

Among the major race and ethnicity groups, the 2013 labor force participation rates for
foreign-born whites (60.0 percent), blacks (71.8 percent), Asians (65.1 percent), and
Hispanics (68.6 percent) were little different from the prior year. In comparison, the
participation rate for native-born whites (63.1 percent) declined in 2013, while the
rates for blacks (59.5 percent), Asians (62.4 percent), and Hispanics (63.7 percent)
showed little change.

In 2013, foreign-born mothers with children under 18 years old were less likely to be
labor force participants than were native-born mothers--59.7 percent versus 72.7 percent.
Labor force participation differences between foreign-born and native-born mothers were
greater among those with younger children than among those with older children. The
labor force participation rate of foreign-born mothers with children under age 6 was
51.2 percent in 2013, much lower than that for native-born mothers with children under
age 6, at 67.4 percent. Among women with children under age 3, the participation rate
for the foreign born (46.7 percent) was 18.2 percentage points below that for native-
born mothers (64.9 percent). The labor force participation rates of foreign-born and
native-born fathers with children under age 18 were similar, at 93.6 percent and 92.6
percent, respectively. (See table 2.)

By region, the foreign born made up a larger share of the labor force in the West
(23.8 percent) and in the Northeast (19.1 percent) than for the nation as a whole
(16.3 percent) in 2013. In contrast, the foreign born made up a smaller share of the
labor force than for the nation as a whole in the South (14.9 percent) and Midwest
(8.4 percent). (See table 6.)

Unemployment

From 2012 to 2013, the unemployment rate of foreign-born workers declined from 8.1
percent to 6.9 percent, and the jobless rate for the native born fell from 8.1 percent
to 7.5 percent. The over-the-year decrease in the unemployment rate of foreign-born
and native-born workers reflected decreases in the rates for both men and women. The
unemployment rate for foreign-born men fell from 7.5 percent to 6.4 percent, and the
rate for foreign-born women was down from 8.9 percent to 7.5 percent. Among the native
born, the rate for men fell from 8.4 percent to 7.9 percent, while the rate for women
was down from 7.7 percent to 7.0 percent. (See table 1.)

For both the foreign born and the native born, jobless rates vary considerably by race
and ethnicity. Among the foreign born, blacks had the highest unemployment rate (10.5
percent) in 2013, while Asians had the lowest (4.7 percent). The unemployment rates
were 6.6 percent for whites and 7.5 percent for Hispanics. Among the native born,
blacks also had the highest jobless rate (13.5 percent), followed by Hispanics (10.7
percent). The unemployment rates were 6.0 percent for whites and 6.5 percent for Asians.

Occupation

In 2013, foreign-born workers were more likely than native-born workers to be employed
in service occupations (24.8 percent versus 16.7 percent). Within service occupations,
about one-third of the foreign born were employed in building and grounds cleaning and
maintenance occupations, about twice the proportion for the native born. Foreign-born
workers also were more likely than native-born workers to be employed in production,
transportation, and material moving occupations (15.4 percent versus 11.1 percent) and
in natural resources, construction, and maintenance occupations (12.9 percent versus
8.3 percent). (See table 4.)

Native-born workers were more likely than foreign-born workers to be employed in
management, professional, and related occupations (39.5 percent versus 30.3 percent)
and in sales and office occupations (24.4 percent versus 16.5 percent).

Foreign-born men were more likely than native-born men to work in natural resources,
construction, and maintenance occupations and in service occupations. Compared with
native-born women, foreign-born women were more likely to be in service occupations
and in production, transportation, and material moving occupations. Among women, the
disparity was especially great in service occupations: 32.9 percent of foreign-born
women worked in service occupations in 2013, compared with 19.8 percent of the 
native-born women. Native-born women were more likely than foreign-born women to be
in sales and office occupations, 31.8 percent versus 22.4 percent.

Earnings

In 2013, the median usual weekly earnings of foreign-born, full-time wage and salary
workers ($643) were 79.9 percent of the earnings of their native-born counterparts
($805). Among men, median weekly earnings for the foreign-born men ($671) were 74.6
percent of the earnings of their native-born counterparts ($899). Among women, median
earnings for foreign-born women ($610) were 84.8 percent of the earnings of their
native-born counterparts ($719). Differences in earnings reflect a variety of factors,
including variations in the distributions of foreign-born and native-born workers
by educational attainment, occupation, industry, and geographic region. (See table 5.)

Among the major race and ethnicity groups, Hispanic foreign-born full-time wage and
salary workers earned 78.2 percent as much as their native-born counterparts in 2013.
For white, black, and Asian workers, earnings for the foreign born and the native born
were relatively close within each group.

The earnings of both foreign-born and native-born workers increase with education. In
2013, foreign-born workers age 25 and over with less than a high school education
earned $428 per week, while those with a bachelor's degree and higher earned about
2.9 times as much--$1,235 per week. Among the native born, those with a bachelor's
degree and higher earned about 2.3 times as much as those with less than a high school
education--$1,187 versus $511 per week.

Native-born workers earn more than the foreign born at most educational attainment
levels. The gap between the earnings of foreign-born and native-born workers closes
at higher levels of education. For example, among high school dropouts and graduates
in 2013, full-time workers who were foreign born earned 83.8 percent as much as their
native-born counterparts. Among those with a bachelor's degree and higher, the earnings
of foreign-born workers were essentially the same as the earnings of native-born workers.



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Last Modified Date: May 22, 2014