1 Report February 12, 2009 Unemployment Rises Sharply Among Latino Immigrants in 2008 Rakesh Kochhar Associate Director for Research, Pew Hispanic Center The Pew Hispanic Center is a nonpartisan research organization that seeks to improve public understanding of the diverse Hispanic population in the United States and to chronicle Latinos' growing impact on the nation. It does not take positions on policy issues. The center is part of the Pew Research Center, a nonpartisan "fact tank" based in Washington, D.C., and it is funded by The Pew Charitable Trusts, a Philadelphia-based public charity. All of the Center s reports are available at The staff of the Center is: Paul Taylor, Director Rakesh Kochhar, Associate Director for Research Richard Fry, Senior Research Associate Gretchen Livingston, Senior Researcher Daniel Dockterman, Research Assistant Mark Hugo Lopez, Associate Director Jeffrey S. Passel, Senior Demographer Ana Gonzalez-Barrera, Senior Analyst Mary Seaborn, Administrative Manager 1615 L Street, NW, Suite 700 Washington, DC Phone: Fax: Copyright 2009
2 Unemployment Rises Sharply Among Latino Immigrants i About the Report This report updates labor market trends for Hispanics and other workers through the fourth quarter of 2008, capturing the first full year of the recession. The data for this report are derived from the Current Population Survey, a monthly survey of about 55,000 households conducted jointly by the Bureau of Labor Statistics and the Census Bureau. Data from three monthly surveys were combined to create larger sample sizes and to conduct the analysis on a quarterly basis. A Note on Terminology The terms Latino and Hispanic are used interchangeably in this report, as are the terms foreign born and immigrant. The terms whites, blacks and Asians are used to refer to their non-hispanic components. The terms jobs and employment are used interchangeably in the report although they are not necessarily the same a single worker can hold more than one job, and a job can be filled by more than one worker Unless otherwise indicated, estimates are not seasonally adjusted. About the Author Rakesh Kochhar has more than 20 years of research experience in the areas of labor economics and price and wage measurement and analysis. Prior to joining the Pew Hispanic Center, he was senior economist at Joel Popkin and Co., where he served as a consultant to government agencies, private firms, international agencies and labor unions. He is a past president of the Society of Government Economists. His doctoral thesis at Brown University focused on the theory of labor migration. Recommended Citation Kochhar, Rakesh. Unemployment Rises Sharply Among Latino Immigrants in 2008, Pew Hispanic Center, Washington, D.C. (February 12, 2009). Acknowledgments The author thanks Paul Taylor for his editorial guidance. Daniel Dockterman and Ana Gonzalez-Barrera provided stellar support for the production of the report. Marcia Kramer served as copy editor.
3 Unemployment Rises Sharply Among Latino Immigrants ii Contents About the Report... i A Note on Terminology... i About the Author... i Recommended Citation... i Acknowledgments... i Contents... ii Labor Market Impact of the Recession... 1 Unemployment and Job Losses... 3 Employment... 4 Labor Force... 5 Working-Age Population... 6 References... 7 Appendix A: Revisions of the CPS... 8 Appendix B: Data Tables... 9
4 Unemployment Rises Sharply Among Latino Immigrants 1 Labor Market Impact of the Recession The current recession is having an especially severe impact on employment prospects for immigrant Hispanics, according to an analysis of the latest Census Bureau data by the Pew Hispanic Center, a project of the Pew Research Center. The unemployment rate for foreign-born Hispanics increased from 5.1% to 8.0%, or by 2.9 percentage points, from the fourth quarter of 2007 to the fourth quarter of During this same time period, the unemployment rate for all persons in the labor market increased from 4.6% to 6.6%, or by 2.0 percentage points. Among immigrant Latinos, the share of the working-age population (16 and older) that is employed fell by 2.8 percentage points, from 67.5% in the fourth quarter of 2007 to 64.7% in the fourth quarter of Among all persons of working age, the employment rate decreased by 1.6 percentage points, from 63.2% to 61.6%, in the first year of the recession. The recession has also had a strong negative effect on blacks and native-born Hispanics in the labor market. Blacks are currently the only major racial and ethnic group whose unemployment rate is in double digits, 11.5% in the fourth quarter of Native-born Hispanics had the second highest rate of unemployment (9.5%) in the fourth quarter of However, changes in the employment rate and other indicators of labor market activity during the recession have been less severe for them than for foreign-born Hispanics. This report summarizes labor market outcomes for Hispanics and other racial and ethnic groups in the ongoing recession. According to the National Bureau of Economic Research, the U.S. economy entered a recession in December The Pew Hispanic Center released two reports in 2008 that captured the early phases of the recession. The first report, in June 2008, focused on the construction slowdown and showed that outcomes for Latinos had turned markedly worse during 2007, even prior to the recession. The second report, in December 2008, showed that a small but significant decline had occurred in the share of Latino immigrants active in the U.S. labor force through the third quarter of This report updates labor market trends through the fourth quarter of 2008, capturing the first full year of the recession. The data for this report are derived from the Current Population Survey, a monthly survey of about 55,000 households conducted jointly by the Bureau of Labor Statistics and the Census Bureau. Data from three monthly surveys were combined to create larger sample sizes and to conduct the analysis on a quarterly 1 Unless otherwise indicated, estimates in this report are nonseasonally adjusted.
5 Unemployment Rises Sharply Among Latino Immigrants 2 basis. The universe for the analysis is the civilian, noninstitutional population ages 16 and older. 2 This report is not able to identify immigrants in the labor force by whether they are documented or undocumented because their immigration status is not recorded in the source data. However, estimates by the Pew Hispanic Center show that unauthorized migrants account for about 5% of the U.S. labor force and about one-third of the foreign-born labor force. They are overrepresented in certain industries such as construction, where they account for 12% of employment (Passel, 2006). Most unauthorized migrants are from Latin American countries, with those from Mexico accounting for about 55% of the total. Labor market outcomes are tracked using a variety of indicators. Economic trends are reflected in levels of employment and unemployment, and in the employment and unemployment rates. The extent to which persons ages 16 and older participate in the labor force, either working or seeking work, is also influenced by economic conditions people are drawn into the labor market during expansions, and they withdraw during recessions. Changes in these indicators are the key to understanding the impact of the recession on different racial and ethnic groups. The principal findings of the analysis, organized by major labor market indicators, are presented below. More detailed data on immigrants by country of origin and year of entry, non-hispanic immigrants, outcomes for women, and employment by industry are presented in a set of appendix tables. Those tables also contain many of the estimates discussed in the text of the report. 2 Residents of institutions, such as nursing homes and prisons, are not part of the Current Population Survey sample.
6 Unemployment Rises Sharply Among Latino Immigrants 3 Unemployment and Job Losses Changes in unemployment during the recession reveal a rapidly worsening situation for foreign-born Hispanics, native-born Hispanics and blacks in the labor market. The unemployment rates for these groups increased by similar amounts from the fourth quarter of 2007 to the fourth quarter of However, the number of unemployed persons increased at a much faster rate for foreign-born Hispanics. The unemployment rate for foreign-born Hispanics increased from 5.1% to 8.0%. The 2.9 percentage point rise was greater than the 2.0 percentage point increase in the overall economy as the unemployment rate for all persons rose from 4.6% to 6.6%. 3 The unemployment rate for native-born Hispanics increased from 6.7% to 9.5%, and the rate for blacks went up from 8.6% to 11.5%. The increases in the unemployment rates for these groups were similar to the increase for foreign-born Hispanics. The number of unemployed persons in the U.S. economy rose by 3.1 million from the fourth quarter of 2007 to the fourth quarter of 2008, an increase of 44.3%. The percentage increase in the number unemployed was highest among foreign-born Latinos 58.3%, or 348,000 persons. Unemployment among native-born Latinos increased by 49.1% (329,000 persons) and among blacks by 34.4% (502,000 persons). Job losses are now widespread across the economy, but the construction sector remains the leading source of job loss for both Hispanics and non- 3 Government estimates for January 2009 show continuing deterioration in the employment situation (Bureau of Labor Statistics, February 6, 2009).
7 Unemployment Rises Sharply Among Latino Immigrants 4 Employment Hispanics. Hispanics lost 343,000 jobs in this industry, and non-hispanics lost 844,000 jobs. The U.S. economy employed 2 million fewer persons in the fourth quarter of 2008 than it employed in the fourth quarter of Among major racial and ethnic groups, only native-born Hispanics added jobs in the past year. But this was principally a function of demographics. The native-born Latino labor force is increasing more rapidly than the labor force for any other group 4.8% compared with only 0.7% growth in the U.S. labor force. Thus, as workers retire or leave employment for other reasons, they are increasingly likely to be replaced by native-born Hispanics. Outcomes for foreign-born Hispanics were the worst by both key indicators of employment the percentage change in the number employed and the change in the employment rate. Employment fell for all groups except native-born Hispanics. The number of employed immigrant Hispanics decreased by 292,000, but employment of native-born Hispanics increased by 147,000. Employment of whites dropped by 1.8 million, of blacks by 314,000 and of Asians by 117,000. The percentage drop in employment was highest for foreign-born Hispanics. Their number employed fell 2.6%, in contrast with a loss of 1.7% for whites, 2.0% for blacks and 1.6% for Asians. The employment rate for all groups, including nativeborn Hispanics, fell from the fourth quarter of 2007 to the fourth quarter of The decrease was greatest for foreign-born Hispanics 2.8 percentage points. The employment rate for white, black and Asian workers fell 1.3, 2.0 and 1.5 percentage points respectively.
8 Unemployment Rises Sharply Among Latino Immigrants 5 Labor Force Labor market activity gauged by the share of persons employed or actively seeking work diminished in the face of the recession. Among all persons, labor force participation fell from 66.3% in the fourth quarter of 2007 to 66.0% in the fourth quarter of 2008, a decline of 0.3 percentage points. The greatest drop in labor force participation was registered by foreign-born Hispanics (0.8 percentage points) and Asian workers (0.9 percentage points). The number of Hispanic immigrants in the labor force increased by only 56,000 between the fourth quarters of 2007 and 2008, a growth rate of 0.5%. In contrast, the native-born Hispanic labor force increased 4.8% and the foreign-born non-hispanic labor force increased 3.4%. Relative to the size of their population, fewer immigrant Latinos were either employed or actively seeking work in the fourth quarter of 2008 compared with a year ago. The labor force participation rate for foreign-born Latinos fell from 71.2% to 70.4%, a drop of 0.8 percentage points. In contrast, the labor force participation rate for whites and blacks fell only 0.2 percentage points each.
9 Unemployment Rises Sharply Among Latino Immigrants 6 Working-Age Population Latinos are an important source of workers to the U.S. economy. The workingage population in the U.S. increased 2.6 million from the fourth quarter of 2007 to the fourth quarter of Latinos accounted for 1.1 million, or 41.7%, of the total increase. In contrast to the recent past, however, the vast majority of the increase in the Latino working-age population 834,000 was native born. The increase in the population of foreign-born Latinos has leveled off in the recent past, but it is not possible to conclude from this trend whether or not foreign-born Latinos are returning to their countries of origin in greater numbers. The trend may be due to an increased outflow of migrants, a reduced inflow of migrants or some combination of the two. Passel and Cohn (2008) found a decrease in the annual inflow of undocumented migrants to the U.S. since About four-in-five undocumented migrants come from Latin America. The working-age population of immigrant Latinos increased 262,000 between the fourth quarters of 2007 and That represents a 1.6% increase, well below the 5.6% increase in the working-age population of native-born Hispanics. The working-age population of foreign-born non-hispanics increased 653,000, or 3.6%. This was the second highest rate of growth in the economy after native-born Hispanics.
10 Unemployment Rises Sharply Among Latino Immigrants 7 References Bureau of Labor Statistics, The Employment Situation: January 2009, United States Department of Labor, USDL (February 6, 2009). Kochhar, R. Latino Workers in the Ongoing Recession: 2007 to 2008, Pew Hispanic Center, Washington, D.C. (December 15, 2008). Kochhar, R. Latino Labor Report, 2008: Construction Reverses Job Growth for Latinos, Pew Hispanic Center (June 4, 2008). Passel, J. Size and Characteristics of the Unauthorized Migrant Population in the U.S.: Estimates Based on the March 2005 Current Population Survey, Pew Hispanic Center (March 7, 2006). Passel, J. and D Vera Cohn Trends in Unauthorized Immigration: Undocumented Inflow Now Trails Legal Inflow, Pew Hispanic Center (October 2, 2008).
11 Unemployment Rises Sharply Among Latino Immigrants 8 Appendix A: Revisions of the CPS Each January, the U.S. Census Bureau makes adjustments to the population controls in the Current Population Survey. These adjustments are typically based on revised estimates of net international migration and updated vital statistics. According to a note released by the Bureau of Labor Statistics ( Adjustments to Household Survey Population Estimates in January 2008 ), the cumulative effect of the adjustment in January 2008 was to reduce the estimate of the Hispanic working-age population by 349,000, the Hispanic labor force by 270,000 and the number of employed Hispanics by 252,000. The BLS has also published a methodology that can be used to adjust previously published CPS data for the effects of ongoing January revisions (see Creating Comparability in CPS Employment Series, by Marisa L. Di Natale). That methodology was applied to make revisions to estimates of the Hispanic population, labor force and employment in 2007 and earlier years. It is assumed in this report that the principal force underlying revisions in the CPS population controls is revised estimates of net international migration. In principle, that means some of the revision could be attributed to emigration by second- and third-generation Hispanics. However, that effect is assumed to be negligible in the current analysis, and the full extent of the CPS revision for Hispanics was assumed to apply to first-generation Hispanics arriving in the U.S. in 2000 or later. Previously computed distributions of the Hispanic first generation by education, age, industry, occupation and other categories were then utilized to distribute the total change in the Hispanic population along those dimensions. The January 2008 revisions also affected estimates of the non-hispanic population. The estimates for all non-hispanics are adjusted to reflect those revisions. However, no adjustments were made to the data for non-hispanic whites, blacks, Asians and others. For whites and blacks, those revisions were relatively small in proportion to their working-age population and have a negligible effect on comparability of the data over time. However, estimates of the working-age population, labor force, employment and unemployment of non- Hispanic Asians are sensitive to the effects of CPS revisions and should be treated with caution. Rates for employment, labor force participation and unemployment are not affected by the January CPS revisions.
12 Unemployment Rises Sharply Among Latino Immigrants 9 Appendix B: Data Tables
13 Unemployment Rises Sharply Among Latino Immigrants 10
14 Unemployment Rises Sharply Among Latino Immigrants 11
15 Unemployment Rises Sharply Among Latino Immigrants 12
16 Unemployment Rises Sharply Among Latino Immigrants 13
17 Unemployment Rises Sharply Among Latino Immigrants 14
18 Unemployment Rises Sharply Among Latino Immigrants 15
19 Unemployment Rises Sharply Among Latino Immigrants 16
20 Unemployment Rises Sharply Among Latino Immigrants 17
21 Unemployment Rises Sharply Among Latino Immigrants 18
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