Job Market Improves for Foreign-Born

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.

About Michael Mandel 127 Articles

Michael Mandel was BusinessWeek's chief economist from 1989-2009, where he helped direct the magazine's coverage of the domestic and global economies.

Since joining BusinessWeek in 1989, he has received multiple awards for his work, including being honored as one of the 100 top U.S. business journalists of the 20th century for his coverage of the New Economy. In 2006 Mandel was named "Best Economic Journalist" by the World Leadership Forum.

Mandel is the author of several books, including Rational Exuberance, The Coming Internet Depression, and The High Risk Society.

Mandel holds a Ph.D. in economics from Harvard University.

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