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Foreign-born labor force nearly half Hispanic and one-quarter Asian in 2017

May 29, 2018

In 2017, nearly half (47.9 percent) of the foreign-born labor force was Hispanic, and one-quarter (25.2 percent) was Asian. Hispanics and Asians made up much lower percentages of the native-born labor force, at 10.7 percent and 2.0 percent, respectively. About 16.5 percent of the foreign-born labor force was White and 9.4 percent was Black, compared with 72.3 percent and 12.2 percent, respectively, of the native-born labor force.

Share of foreign-born and native-born labor force by selected characteristics, 2017
Characteristic Foreign born Native born

Sex

Men

57.5% 52.2%

Women

42.5 47.8

Age

16 to 24 years

6.9 14.5

25 to 34 years

21.5 22.7

35 to 44 years

26.7 19.4

45 to 54 years

24.9 20.1

55 to 64 years

15.4 17.1

65 years and over

4.6 6.3

Race and Hispanic or Latino ethnicity(1)

White non-Hispanic or Latino

16.5 72.3

Black non-Hispanic or Latino

9.4 12.2

Asian non-Hispanic or Latino

25.2 2.0

Hispanic or Latino ethnicity

47.9 10.7

Educational attainment(2)

Less than a high school diploma

21.8 4.2

High school graduates, no college(3)

25.2 25.9

Some college or associate degree

16.8 29.4

Bachelor's degree or higher(4)

36.2 40.5
Footnotes:

(1) Data for race/ethnicity groups do not sum to totals because data are not presented for all races. Data for people who are White, Black, or Asian do not include those of Hispanic or Latino ethnicity. Data on people of Hispanic or Latino ethnicity are presented separately.

(2) Data on educational attainment are for workers age 25 and over. All other data are for workers age 16 and over.

(3) Includes people with a high school diploma or equivalent.

(4) Includes people with bachelor's, master's, professional, and doctoral degrees.

In 2017, men accounted for 57.5 percent of the foreign-born labor force, compared with 52.2 percent of the native-born labor force. The proportion of the foreign-born labor force made up of 25- to 54-year-olds was 73.1 percent, higher than for the native-born labor force (62.2 percent).

The share of the foreign-born labor force age 25 and over that had not completed high school was 21.8 percent in 2017, much higher than the figure for the native-born labor force, at 4.2 percent. The foreign born were less likely than the native born to have some college or an associate degree, 16.8 percent versus 29.4 percent.

In 2017, foreign-born men were considerably more likely to be labor force participants (78.1 percent) than their native-born counterparts (67.3 percent). In contrast, 54.5 percent of foreign-born women were labor force participants, somewhat lower than the rate of 57.5 percent for native-born women.

Labor force participation rates of the foreign-born and native-born by selected characteristics, 2017
Characteristic Foreign born Native born

Sex

Men

78.1% 67.3%

Women

54.5 57.5

Age

16 to 24 years

53.2 55.7

25 to 34 years

75.4 83.5

35 to 44 years

79.4 83.7

45 to 54 years

80.5 80.3

55 to 64 years

68.5 63.8

65 years and over

19.9 19.3

Race and Hispanic or Latino ethnicity(1)

White non-Hispanic or Latino

59.9 62.2

Black non-Hispanic or Latino

71.5 60.7

Asian non-Hispanic or Latino

64.3 62.0

Hispanic or Latino ethnicity

68.3 64.2

Educational attainment(2)

Less than a high school diploma

58.5 36.4

High school graduates, no college(3)

66.1 56.1

Some college or associate degree

70.4 65.3

Bachelor's degree or higher(4)

72.9 74.0
Footnotes:

(1) Data for people who are White, Black, or Asian do not include those of Hispanic or Latino ethnicity. Data on people of Hispanic or Latino ethnicity are presented separately.

(2) Data on educational attainment are for workers age 25 and over. All other data are for workers age 16 and over.

(3) Includes people with a high school diploma or equivalent.

(4) Includes people with bachelor's, master's, professional, and doctoral degrees.

Among the foreign born, the labor force participation rate was 71.5 percent for Blacks, 64.3 percent for Asians, 59.9 percent for Whites, and 68.3 percent for Hispanics. Among the native born, the participation rate was 60.7 percent for Blacks, 62.0 percent for Asians, 62.2 percent for Whites, and 64.2 percent for Hispanics.

These data are from the Current Population Survey. For more information, see "Foreign-Born Workers: Labor Force Characteristics — 2017" (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. Data do not separately identify the numbers of people in these categories.

SUGGESTED CITATION

Bureau of Labor Statistics, U.S. Department of Labor, The Economics Daily, Foreign-born labor force nearly half Hispanic and one-quarter Asian in 2017 on the Internet at https://www.bls.gov/opub/ted/2018/foreign-born-labor-force-nearly-half-hispanic-and-one-quarter-asian-in-2017.htm (visited January 26, 2020).

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