Foreign-born Hispanic or Latino workers made up 8.2 percent of the employed U.S. workforce, but 14.0 percent of work-related deaths in 2021. Fatal injuries to this group were most prevalent in the field of construction, with falls, slips, and trips being the most frequent event leading to death. This Spotlight explores the industries, occupations, and events related to deaths of foreign-born Hispanic or Latino workers.
Foreign-born workers are people who reside in the United States but were born outside the country or one of its outlying areas to parents who were not U.S. citizens. Foreign-born workers include legally admitted immigrants, refugees, undocumented immigrants, and temporary residents such as students and temporary workers.
Hispanic or Latino workers made up 47.5 percent of foreign-born employees, with around 12.5 million workers in 2021. Non-Hispanic Asian foreign-born workers made up the next largest group with about 6.7 million workers. (People who are Hispanic or Latino may be of any race.)
Deaths among foreign-born Hispanic or Latino workers increased 42.0 percent from 512 in 2011 to 727 in 2021, the highest level on record. This group’s working population increased 16.7 percent over the same period. The second largest increase in foreign-born worker fatalities from 2011 to 2021 was among non-Hispanic Asians, who had a 40.2-percent increase in deaths but a 30.8-percent increase in the employed population.
The majority of fatal injuries among Hispanic or Latino and non-Hispanic Asian workers were to foreign-born rather than native-born workers. In 2021, 64.3 percent of all Hispanic or Latino worker fatalities and 84.3 percent of non-Hispanic Asian deaths were to foreign-born workers. Foreign-born workers are overrepresented in fatal workplace injuries since these workers make up 45.7 percent of employed Hispanics or Latinos and 69.0 percent of employed non-Hispanic Asians.
Foreign-born Hispanic or Latino workers made up 7.9 percent of total employment in 2020. However, this group accounted for 26.3 percent of fatalities resulting from falls, slips, and trips, and 18.4 percent of fatalities from contact with objects and equipment. Conversely, these workers accounted for 7.1 percent of workplace deaths due to violence and other injuries caused by people or animals.
Among all workers, the construction industry had the most fatal work injuries in 2021. It was also the industry with the highest number of foreign-born Hispanic or Latino worker deaths. The 274 fatalities to foreign-born Hispanic or Latino workers accounted for 27 percent of all deaths in the construction industry. Within this industry, falls, slips, and trips were the most common fatal event.
Native-born non-Hispanic White workers accounted for a smaller share of fatalities in the construction industry in 2021 than in 2011, down from 65.2 percent to 51.5 percent. Over the same period, foreign-born Hispanic or Latino workers made up a larger share of construction industry deaths, up from 19.8 percent to 27.0 percent. All other racial and ethnic groups combined made up 21.5 percent of fatal injuries in this industry in 2021, up from 15.0 percent in 2011.
More than half of all construction industry workers are employed in specialty trade contracting. The establishments they work for are involved in specific activities such as pouring concrete, plumbing, painting, carpentry, and electrical work. There were 231 fatalities to Hispanic or Latino specialty trade contracting industry workers in 2020. Fifty-nine were to native-born workers and 172 were to those who were foreign born. Among Hispanics or Latinos, deaths of foreign-born workers also outnumbered those of native-born workers in the construction of buildings and heavy and civil engineering construction industries.
Four occupational groups made up 554 (or 76.2 percent) of the 727 total fatalities to foreign-born Hispanic or Latino workers in 2021. Construction and extraction occupations accounted for 263 (or 36.2 percent) deaths to these workers.
In 2021, there were 462 work-related fatalities across all races and ethnicities in California. Of these, 135 were to foreign-born Hispanic or Latino workers. Texas had a total of 533 fatal work injuries, 134 were to foreign-born Hispanic or Latino employees. In Florida, 72 of the state’s 315 workplace fatalities were to foreign-born Hispanics or Latinos. Overall, nearly half of all work-related fatal injuries to foreign-born Hispanics or Latinos happened in these three states in 2021.
In California, 29 foreign-born Hispanic or Latino workers were fatally injured in the construction industry in 2021—more than in any other industry. However, this industry accounted for a smaller share of all deaths to this group of workers in California than it did nationwide. The construction industry accounted for 21.5 percent of foreign-born Hispanic or Latino deaths in the state. Nationally, the construction industry made up 37.7 percent of fatalities to these workers.
Conversely, the agriculture, forestry, fishing, and hunting industry and the manufacturing industry made up higher-than-average shares of the foreign-born Hispanic or Latino deaths in California. Of the state’s 135 fatalities to foreign-born Hispanic or Latino workers, 16.3 percent (22 fatalities) occurred in the agriculture, forestry, fishing, and hunting industry, while 13.3 percent (18 fatalities) happened in the manufacturing industry. Nationally, these industries made up less than 10 percent of all fatalities to foreign-born Hispanic or Latino workers.
The construction industry also accounted for the most foreign-born Hispanic or Latino worker fatalities in Texas. Of the 134 fatalities to foreign-born Hispanic or Latino workers in the state, 55 occurred in the construction industry. This industry’s 41.0-percent share of total fatalities to foreign-born Hispanic or Latino workers in Texas was higher than the national average of 37.7 percent.
The next highest number of foreign-born Hispanic or Latino worker deaths in Texas occurred in the transportation and warehousing industry, with 28 fatalities. The transportation and warehousing industry made up a higher share of fatalities to foreign-born Hispanic or Latino workers in Texas (20.9 percent) than nationwide (11.6 percent).
Jason Castillo is an economist in the Office of Compensation and Working Conditions, Bureau of Labor Statistics. For questions about this Spotlight, please email email@example.com.
This Spotlight looks at data on foreign-born Hispanic and Latino workers from the Current Population Survey (CPS) and the Census of Fatal Occupational Injuries (CFOI). The CPS is a nationwide survey which collects information about the national unemployment rate, along with a wide range of information about employment, unemployment, and people not in the labor force. CFOI publishes counts of work-related fatal injuries and data on their circumstances.
You can learn more about the programs and data in this Spotlight at the following pages: