Unauthorized Immigrant Workers in the U.S.

The Pew Research Center has released a new report on the unauthorized migrant workforce in the United States.  Using data from the U.S. Census Bureau's American Community Survey, the report examines how changes in the overall economy since the Great Recession have affected the unauthorized immigrant workforce.

The Pew Research Center analyses show that unauthorized immigrants made up 5.1 percent of the nation's labor force in 2012 (it peaked at 5.4 percent in 2007).  After increasing steadily in the 1990s and early 2000s, the size of the unauthorized immigrant labor force has been relatively stable at about 8.2 million since 2007.  The states whose labor forces have the highest shares of unauthorized immigrants are Nevada (10.2 percent in 2012), California (9.4 percent) and Texas (8.9 percent).

The report also found that:

  • Mirroring changes in the overall U.S. economy, the share of all unauthorized immigrant workers with management and professional jobs grew to 13 percent in 2012 from 10 percent in 2007, and the share with construction or production jobs declined to 29 percent from 34 percent.
  • Unauthorized immigrant workers are twice as likely as U.S.-born workers to hold lower-skill jobs and half as likely to have management or professional jobs.
  • In most states, the largest number of unauthorized immigrant workers are found in service occupations, followed by construction.
  • Farming is the occupation in which unauthorized immigrant employees are the highest share of the workforce.
  • The industries with the highest shares of unauthorized immigrant workers, and the top industries for unauthorized immigrants vary markedly by state.

Read more:

TeachingwithData.org resources:
Immigration in the U.S. (http://www.teachingwithdata.org/resource/3119)
Spatial Variation in immigrant and minority incorporation: Are there advantages to being a racial or ethnic minority in a low or moderate immigration state? (http://www.teachingwithdata.org/resource/3168)
"Global Migration Patterns" Lesson Plan (http://www.teachingwithdata.org/resource/2858)
Migration Service Learning Plan (http://www.teachingwithdata.org/resource/3291)
Frederique Laubepin

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