All N.C. Employment Growth Since 2000 Has Gone To Immigrants …

by Marguerite Telford –
Center For Immigration Studies –

… Despite natives accounting for most of the population growth

WASHINGTON, DC (September 2, 2014) — The Gang of Eight immigration bill (S.744) passed last June would have roughly doubled the number of new foreign workers allowed into the country, as well as legalized illegal immigrants already here. North Carolina Sen. Kay Hagen (D) voted for it. To put into context the possible effects of this legislation on North Carolina, the Center for Immigration Studies has analyzed recent government employment data. The analysis shows that since 2000, all of the net increase in the number of working-age (16 to 65) people holding a job in North Carolina has gone to immigrants (legal and illegal). This is the case even though the native-born accounted for 61 percent of growth in the state’s total working-age population.

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“A huge number of working-age people in North Carolina are not working, and labor force participation remains at record lows. Thus, it is remarkable that any of the state’s political leaders would support legislation that would actually increase the number of foreign workers allowed into the country,” observed Steven Camarota, the Center’s Director of Research and lead author of the report.

Among the findings:

The total number of working-age (16 to 65) immigrants (legal and illegal) holding a job in North Carolina increased by 313,000 from the first quarter of 2000 to the first quarter of 2014, while the number of working-age natives with a job declined by 32,000 over the same time.

The fact that all of the long-term net gain in employment among the working-age went to immigrants is striking because natives accounted for 61 percent of the increase in the total size of the state’s working-age population.

As immigrant employment has increased, there has been a long-term decline in employment among North Carolina natives: In the first quarter of this year, only 64 percent of working-age natives in the state held a job. As recently as 2000, 74 percent were working.

Because the native working-age population in North Carolina grew significantly, but the share working actually fell, there were 720,000 more working-age natives not working in the first quarter of 2014 than in 2000 — a 56 percent increase.

The supply of potential workers in North Carolina is very large: In the first quarter of 2014, two million working-age natives were not working (unemployed or entirely out of the labor market), as were 201,000 working-age immigrants.

Perhaps most troubling is that the labor-force participation rate (share working or looking for work) of working-age natives in North Carolina has continued to decline even after the jobs recovery began in 2010.

In fact, the labor-force participation of natives in North Carolina shows a near uninterrupted 14-year decline.

In terms of the labor-force participation rate among working-age natives, the state ranks 37th in the nation.

Two key conclusions from the state’s employment situation:

First, the long-term decline in employment for natives in North Carolina and the enormous number of working-age natives not working clearly indicate that there is no general labor shortage in the state. Thus, it is very difficult to justify the large increases in foreign workers (skilled and unskilled) who would be allowed into the country by a bill like S.744 that many of the state’s politicians support.

Second, North Carolina’s working-age immigrant population grew 146 percent from 2000 to 2014, one of the highest rates of any state in the nation. Yet the number of natives working in 2014 was actually lower than in 2000. This undermines the argument that immigration increases job opportunities for natives.

Contact: Marguerite Telford

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