Foreign-born workers made 83.1 percent of the earnings of their native-born counterparts in 2016

May 24, 2017

In 2016, there were 27.0 million foreign-born persons in the U.S. labor force, comprising 16.9 percent of the total.

In 2016, the median usual weekly earnings of foreign-born full-time wage and salary workers ($715) were 83.1 percent of the earnings of their native-born counterparts ($860). Among men, median weekly earnings for the foreign born ($751) were 79.0 percent of the earnings of the native born ($951). Median earnings for foreign-born women ($655) were 86.0 percent of the earnings of their native-born counterparts ($762). Differences in earnings reflect varying educational attainment, occupation, industry, and geographic location of foreign-born and native-born workers, among other factors.

Median usual weekly earnings of foreign-born full-time wage and salary workers as a percent of native-born worker wages, 2016 annual averages
Characteristic Percent

Total, 16 years and over

83.1%

Men

79.0

Women

86.0

 

 

Age

 

16 to 24 years

99.0

25 to 34 years

87.0

35 to 44 years

77.8

45 to 54 years

76.9

55 to 64 years

81.5

65 years and over

81.9

 

 

Race and Hispanic or Latino ethnicity

 

White non-Hispanic or Latino

110.6

Black non-Hispanic or Latino

102.4

Asian non-Hispanic or Latino

108.8

Hispanic or Latino ethnicity

83.5

 

 

Educational attainment

 

Less than a high school diploma

93.1

High school graduates, no college

85.8

Some college or associate degree

90.0

Bachelor's degree and higher

104.6

Among the major race and ethnicity groups, Hispanic foreign-born full-time wage and salary workers earned 83.5 percent as much as their native-born counterparts in 2016. Among Black workers, earnings of the foreign born and the native born were relatively close. For White and Asian workers, earnings for the foreign born were slightly higher than for the native born.

In 2016, foreign-born workers were more likely than native-born workers to be employed in service occupations (23.5 percent versus 16.5 percent); in production, transportation, and material moving occupations (14.8 percent versus 11.1 percent); and in natural resources, construction, and maintenance occupations (13.6 percent versus 8.3 percent). Native-born workers were more likely than foreign-born workers to be employed in management, professional, and related occupations (40.7 percent versus 32.2 percent) and in sales and office occupations (23.4 percent versus 15.9 percent).

Percent of foreign-born and native-born workers employed in each occupational group, 2016 annual averages
Occupation Foreign born Native born

Management, business, and financial operations occupations

12.4% 17.3%

Professional and related occupations

19.8 23.4

Service occupations

23.5 16.5

Sales and office occupations

15.9 23.4

Natural resources, construction, and maintenance occupations

13.6 8.3

Production, transportation, and material moving occupations

14.8 11.1

These data are from the Current Population Survey. For more information, see "Foreign-Born Workers: Labor Force Characteristics — 2016" (HTML) (PDF). The foreign born are U.S. residents 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.

SUGGESTED CITATION

Bureau of Labor Statistics, U.S. Department of Labor, The Economics Daily, Foreign-born workers made 83.1 percent of the earnings of their native-born counterparts in 2016 on the Internet at https://www.bls.gov/opub/ted/2017/foreign-born-workers-made-83-point-1-percent-of-the-earnings-of-their-native-born-counterparts-in-2016.htm (visited July 25, 2017).

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