Foreign-Born Workers in American Jobs Hit Record High
FAIR Take | June 2023
A new report on foreign-born workers by the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) marks another new low for the Biden administration’s immigration policy and the American-born worker. According to the report, foreign-born workers made up a record 18.1 percent of the civilian labor force in America.
The foreign-born proportion of the workforce is the highest since tracking began in 1994, the result of rapid and unsustainable increases in migration crowding out American workers, even at entry-level jobs. These workers are very different from the native-born population, and the report raises serious questions as to whether these workers are legal or are ever meaningfully integrated.
The drastic rise in the foreign-born proportion of workers is partially the product of the Biden administration’s thoughtless and destructive immigration policies. For example, the Biden administration has opened a “back door” by flying up to 30,000 illegal aliens directly into the U.S. every month and admitting tens of thousands more at the border. These illegal aliens are admitted thanks to a misuse of what’s known as immigration parole, and they have the ability to work legally and collect many benefits despite lacking any legal status.
“Unskilled” also seems to be a running theme in the BLS report. Only 3.4 percent of working native-born Americans have not completed high school, but a whopping 18.3 percent of the foreign-born lack this basic qualification. This impedes their ability to climb the economic ladder and meaningfully integrate into American society. Many or even most of this segment of the population are likely illegal immigrants. Ultimately, native-born Americans (who are much more likely to have a high school diploma and a least an associate’s degree) will end up paying for this substantial population struggling to enter any field but manual labor and low-level service jobs even with work authorization.
According to the BLS, foreign-born workers are typically limited to low-paid industries. They are much more likely to work in services, construction, and maintenance (with disparities of over 10 percent in some cases). However, the foreign-born are underrepresented in professional and management jobs (by 9 percent) and in sales and office jobs (by around 7 percent). These higher-paying fields rely on written and spoken English, with which many foreign-born workers may be uncomfortable. The differences in education levels only make this distinction more prominent.
Nearly half of foreign-born workers are Hispanic and another 25 percent are Asian, with Blacks and Whites underrepresented. Foreign-born Hispanics typically make up to 20 percent less than their native-born counterparts, which drives down the income of the foreign-born substantially. According to the report, these workers are vastly overrepresented in the lower end of the job market across the country (especially the West and Northeast) and effectively block the native-born from entry-level jobs. Furthermore, much of these workers’ limited income is sent back as remittances, entirely bypassing the local economy.
The unsustainable increase in low-skill foreign-born workers hurts the native-born at every stage of their careers. Employment-based legal immigration to the U.S. is supposedly designed to supplement the American workforce in certain select categories. For example, our allotments for seasonal labor and very specialized fields, like medicine and the tech industry, are already too generous and frequently abused. Large-scale hiring of illegal aliens, including parolees and bogus asylum-seekers, further subverts our immigration laws and actually lowers wages for Americans across the board.
If mass immigration really solved economic problems, you’d think it would have started working by now. In reality, native-born workers’ wages are stagnating as they continue to be undercut by cheap labor from abroad. American citizens deserve a limited immigration system that prioritizes their needs, not one that lets businesses break the law and exploit workers while handing taxpayers the bill.