Today’s job release showed a very surprising pattern: Compared to a year ago, the labor market for foreign-born workers appears to have improved. Meanwhile, the labor market for native-born workers appears to have worsened compared to a year ago.
Foreign born workers had an unemployment rate of 8.6% in May 2010, compared to 9.1% a year in May 2009. Native-born workers had an unemployment rate of 9.5% in May 2010, compared to 9.0% a year ago.
Let’s look at the changes over the past few months. In this chart, remember that the unemployment rate is not seasonally adjusted. The unemployment rate for the foreign-born took a big drop between March and April. Maybe it’s the result of change in sampling procedures, maybe it has something to do with the decadal census, or maybe it’s real.
In the middle of the big immigration debate, I’m almost reluctant to put up this post–it feels like throwing fuel on the fire. But I’m a firm believer in letting numbers speak for themselves.