Majority of Latino Workers Are Now U.S.-Born — Not Immigrants – Real Time Economics

Immigrants still make up a big share of Hispanic workers in the U.S., but more often than not, they’re born in the U.S.A.

For the first time in nearly two decades, the majority of America’s Latino workers are U.S.-born, according to a report by the Pew Research Center released on Thursday.

Just under half–49.7%–of Hispanic workers were foreign-born at the end of 2013, down from 56.1% in 2007 and slightly below 1995’s level of 50.5%, Pew says. And early evidence suggests the trend is continuing this year, pushing the share of immigrants among America’s roughly 22 million Hispanic workers to 48.8%.

The figures suggest a diminishment of the influx of Latino workers coming to America for jobs in industries such as construction and food-service in recent decades. If current trends continue, Hispanic workers could, in time, be seen as Americans first, and Hispanics second—the same way earlier waves of European immigrants have become part of the nation’s social fabric and altered the course of its politics and economy.

“This signals perhaps the end of an era,” says Rakesh Kochhar, who authored the report and analyzed data from the U.S. Census Bureau and Labor Department.

Several factors are at work.

The recession and slow economic recovery curbed immigration from Central and South America, notably Mexico. Lower demand for labor here, and stronger economic growth in countries such as Mexico, have encouraged workers to stay home. Some of those who came may have returned.

Population growth has abated in Latin America as well.

While the U.S. housing market has improved significantly, and the construction industry is creating some jobs, any employment gains have been muted—especially for Latinos. “None of the construction jobs have come back for immigrants,” Mr. Kochhar says.

The share of foreign-born Latinos employed in construction fell from 19% in 2007 to 15% in 2009 and has stayed at about that level, he says. The jobs

Hispanic workers have managed to get since 2009 have gone disproportionately to U.S.-born Hispanic workers, not immigrants, he adds.

The more important long-term driver of the rising share of U.S-born Hispanic workers, however, is demographics. Nearly 90% of the increase in America’s Hispanic population between 2009 and 2013 came from what’s called “natural increase,” or births outpacing deaths, says Mr. Kochhar. In other words, as U.S. Hispanics have children over time, the ranks of working-age Hispanics grows—even when immigration stalls.

“You could cut off immigration to the U.S. entirely, and the Hispanic population would continue to grow at a significant rate,” says Kenneth Johnson, a demographer at the University of New Hampshire. Many Americans don’t appreciate how little immigration—whether legal or illegal—figures in the recent growth of the Hispanic population, he says.

In 2012, there were 6.7 Hispanic births for every Hispanic death. The ratio for non-Hispanic whites is dramatically different: Less than one birth for every death. (Census will release new statistics with demographic details about the population next Thursday.)

Thanks to these births, the share of immigrants in the overall U.S. Hispanic population—not just workers, but everyone—is falling steadily. This share was 35% in 2013, down from 40% in 2002, Pew data show.



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19 June 2014 | 6:00 pm – Source:

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