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Foreign-born workers with a bachelor's degree and higher earned more than native born in 2018

May 28, 2019

In 2018, median weekly earnings of foreign-born full-time wage and salary workers were $758, compared with $910 for native-born workers. Since 2005, the earliest year for which data are available, median weekly earnings for foreign-born workers increased by 48.3 percent. This compares with an increase of 34.4 percent for native-born workers.

 Median usual weekly earnings of full-time foreign- and native-born wage and salary workers, 2005 and 2018 annual averages
Characteristic Foreign born 2005 Foreign born 2018 Native born 2005 Native born 2018

Total 16 years and over

$511 $758 $677 $910

Gender

Men

523 815 760 1007

Women

487 678 596 810

Age

16 to 24 years

353 522 404 551

25 to 34 years

495 752 633 819

35 to 44 years

587 802 755 1035

45 to 54 years

563 779 772 1059

55 to 64 years

607 774 757 1035

65 years and over

494 733 578 977

Race and Hispanic or Latino ethnicity

White non-Hispanic or Latino

733 1083 720 986

Black non-Hispanic or Latino

521 699 521 697

Asian non-Hispanic or Latino

747 1129 777 1065

Hispanic or Latino ethnicity

412 621 555 741

Educational attainment

Total, 25 years and over

543 775 724 965

Less than a high school diploma

385 535 442 578

High school graduates, no college

496 632 594 754

Some college or associate degree

592 755 679 837

Bachelor’s degree and higher

960 1362 1023 1309

Median weekly earnings for foreign-born workers with a bachelor's degree and higher ($1,362) were higher in 2018 than those for native-born workers ($1,309). However, native-born workers with less than a bachelor's degree earned more than foreign-born workers.

In 2018, foreign-born White and Asian workers had higher median weekly earnings than native-born White and Asian workers. In contrast, native-born workers of Hispanic or Latino ethnicity had higher median weekly earnings ($741) than foreign-born Hispanic or Latino workers ($621). Median weekly earnings for foreign- and native-born Black workers were essentially the same.

Median weekly earnings for foreign-born men increased by 55.8 percent from 2005 to 2018. This compares with an increase of 32.5 percent for native-born men. In contrast, over that period, the percentage increases for foreign-born women (39.2 percent) and native-born women (35.9 percent) were similar.

Percent change in median usual weekly earnings of full-time foreign- and native-born wage and salary workers, 2005 and 2018, annual averages
Characteristic Foreign born Native born

Total 16 years and over

48.3% 34.4%

Gender

Men

55.8 32.5

Women

39.2 35.9

Age

16 to 24 years

47.9 36.4

25 to 34 years

51.9 29.4

35 to 44 years

36.6 37.1

45 to 54 years

38.4 37.2

55 to 64 years

27.5 36.7

65 years and over

48.4 69.0

Race and Hispanic or Latino ethnicity

White non-Hispanic or Latino

47.7 36.9

Black non-Hispanic or Latino

34.2 33.8

Asian non-Hispanic or Latino

51.1 37.1

Hispanic or Latino ethnicity

50.7 33.5

Educational attainment

Total, 25 years and over

42.7 33.3

Less than a high school diploma

39.0 30.8

High school graduates, no college

27.4 26.9

Some college or associate degree

27.5 23.3

Bachelor’s degree and higher

41.9 28.0

From 2005 to 2018, median weekly earnings for foreign-born workers ages 25 to 34 increased 51.9 percent, compared with 29.4 percent for native-born workers. Over that period, median weekly earnings for native-born workers age 65 and over increased 69.0 percent. This compares with an increase of 48.4 percent for foreign-born workers.

These data are from the Current Population Survey. For more information, see "Foreign-Born Workers: Labor Force Characteristics — 2018." 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. Data for people who are White, Black, or Asian do not include those of Hispanic or Latino ethnicity.

SUGGESTED CITATION

Bureau of Labor Statistics, U.S. Department of Labor, The Economics Daily, Foreign-born workers with a bachelor's degree and higher earned more than native born in 2018 on the Internet at https://www.bls.gov/opub/ted/2019/foreign-born-workers-with-a-bachelors-degree-and-higher-earned-more-than-native-born-in-2018.htm (visited January 19, 2020).

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