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Foreign-born workers were a record high 18.1 percent of the U.S. civilian labor force in 2022

June 16, 2023

In 2022, foreign-born workers accounted for a record high 18.1 percent of the U.S. civilian labor force, up from 17.4 percent in 2021. The share of foreign born has followed an upward trend since collection of these data began in 1996.

Percent of U.S. labor force that is foreign born, 2006–22 annual averages
Year Percent

2006

15.3

2007

15.7

2008

15.6

2009

15.5

2010

15.8

2011

15.9

2012

16.1

2013

16.3

2014

16.5

2015

16.7

2016

16.9

2017

17.1

2018

17.4

2019

17.4

2020

17.0

2021

17.4

2022

18.1

The number of foreign born in the labor force grew from 28.0 million to 29.8 million in 2022, an increase of 6.3 percent. This was the second year of labor force growth for the foreign born following a sharp decline reflecting the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic in 2020. By comparison, the native-born labor force rose from 133.2 million to 134.5 million in 2022, an increase of just 1.0 percent.

Percent change in number of foreign-born and native-born workers in the labor force, 2006–22 annual averages
Year Foreign born Native born

2006

5.0 0.8

2007

3.7 0.7

2008

0.3 0.8

2009

-0.6 0.0

2010

1.8 -0.5

2011

0.1 -0.2

2012

2.6 0.6

2013

1.2 0.1

2014

1.6 0.1

2015

2.0 0.5

2016

2.6 1.0

2017

1.6 0.5

2018

3.0 0.7

2019

0.7 1.0

2020

-3.8 -1.3

2021

2.5 -0.2

2022

6.3 1.0

Men accounted for 57.2 percent of the foreign-born labor force in 2022, compared with 52.3 percent of the native-born labor force. Nearly half (47.6 percent) of the foreign-born labor force was Hispanic or Latino, 24.7 percent was Asian, 16.0 percent was White, and 10.4 percent was Black. The native-born labor force was 69.9 percent White, 12.4 percent Black, 12.2 percent Hispanic or Latino, and 2.4 percent Asian.

In 2022, foreign-born men were considerably more likely to be labor force participants (77.4 percent) than were their native-born counterparts (66.0 percent). In contrast, 55.0 percent of foreign-born women were labor force participants, lower than the rate of 57.2 percent for native-born women.

These data are from the Current Population Survey. To learn more, see “Foreign-born Workers: Labor Force Characteristics — 2022.” The foreign born are people who live in the United States but who were not U.S. citizens at birth. People whose ethnicity is Hispanic or Latino may be of any race.

SUGGESTED CITATION

Bureau of Labor Statistics, U.S. Department of Labor, The Economics Daily, Foreign-born workers were a record high 18.1 percent of the U.S. civilian labor force in 2022 at https://www.bls.gov/opub/ted/2023/foreign-born-workers-were-a-record-high-18-1-percent-of-the-u-s-civilian-labor-force-in-2022.htm (visited May 28, 2024).

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