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FPI_ImmigrantsAndOccupationalDiversity

VIEWS: 15,167 PAGES: 21

									Across the Spectrum:
The Wide Range of Jobs
Immigrants Do




A Fiscal Policy Institute Report
www.fiscalpolicy.org

April, 2010
The principal author of this report is David Dyssegaard Kallick. The Fiscal Policy
Institute’s chief economist and deputy director, James Parrott, oversaw the work at every
stage. Research associate Jonathan DeBusk conducted the data analysis. Jo Brill,
communications director, helped with formatting and proofreading. The work was
overseen by Frank Mauro, executive director of the Fiscal Policy Institute.

Fiscal Policy Institute’s Immigration Research Initiative is guided by advice and input
from our expert advisory panel. Current members are listed on the last page of this report.

Thanks to Audrey Singer and Jill Wilson of the Brookings Institution’s Metropolitan
Policy Program for guidance on the analysis of American Community Survey microdata
by Metropolitan Statistical Area.

Charts with 21 detailed occupations for immigrants in each of the 25 largest metro areas
are available upon request.

Core funding for the Fiscal Policy Institute’s Immigration Research Initiative is provided
by the Carnegie Corporation of New York, and additional funding is provided by the
Horace Hagedorn Foundation.




Contact:

David Dyssegaard Kallick
Director of the Fiscal Policy Institute’s Immigration Research Initiative
212-721-7164
ddkallick@fiscalpolicy.org
www.fiscalpolicy.org/immigration.html
                                           Across the Spectrum




Introduction

Across the Spectrum looks at the wide range of jobs immigrants hold in the 25 largest
metropolitan areas of the United States.

Across the Spectrum updates the data used in our December 2009 report, Immigrants and
the Economy, and looks at it from a different perspective.1 In the 2009 report, we
examined the important role immigrants are playing in a wide range of metropolitan
areas. We looked at the immigrant share of economic output, which we found was
consistently in line with the immigrant share of population. We looked at the correlation
of aggregate metro area economic growth and growth in immigrant share of the labor
force, finding unsurprisingly that immigration and economic growth go hand in hand.
And, examining 5 broad and 21 detailed occupations, we looked at what share of each
occupation was held by immigrants.

In this report, we take much of the same information and examine the range of
occupations held by immigrants. Rather than asking, for example, what share of
technicians are immigrants, we ask here what share of immigrants are technicians.

Contrary to common misperception, immigrants are spread quite broadly across a wide
range of occupations in most metropolitan areas. In some metro areas, such as Pittsburgh,
Cleveland and St. Louis, immigrants are in fact quite strikingly concentrated in higher-
skilled occupations; in others, such as Dallas or Phoenix, they are more concentrated
toward the lower end of the skill spectrum. Interestingly, it is often in the metro areas
with slowest economic growth that immigrants are most concentrated at the top of the
skills spectrum. The reason is clear enough: immigration and growth go hand in hand, so
areas with low levels of growth, such as metro Pittsburgh, wind up with a comparatively
small number of immigrants. Doctors, engineers, and executives still come to the area to
work at institutions drawing from a global talent pool. But, immigrants looking for jobs
in lower-skilled occupations—for example, in food services or as construction laborers—
are not likely to go to areas with very low growth. It’s not so much that metro Pittsburgh
has a very large number of high-skilled immigrants as that immigration overall is
comparatively low. In a booming metro area, both higher- and lower-skilled immigrants
will be part of the economic picture.

The analysis presented here includes as immigrants all people residing in the United
States who were born in another country. It includes documented and undocumented
immigrants, recent arrivals as well as long-term residents, citizens and non-citizens.
Where possible, we use data from the Pew Hispanic Center to give an analogous picture
of undocumented immigrants.




1
    Immigrants and the Economy is available online at www.fiscalpolicy.org/immigration.html.


FPI April 2010                                                                                 1
                                      Across the Spectrum


1. The country’s 25 largest metropolitan areas

In the 25 largest Metropolitan Statistical Areas of the United States, the immigrant share
of the population varies greatly, from 37 percent in metro Miami to 3 percent in metro
Pittsburgh. (Figure 1.)

Metropolitan areas include both central cities and the suburbs that surround them, and
they are defined in large measure by commuting patterns. Metropolitan areas are thus a
good way to consider local labor markets. Because they are defined this way, there is also
greater comparability among metro areas than among other units of analysis, for example,
cities. The counties included in each metropolitan statistical area can be found in
                                                            Appendix A of Immigrants and
  Immigrant share of population                             the Economy.
 varies greatly in 25 metro areas
 2006-2008




  Figure 1.
  Source: American Factfinder, 2006-08 American
  Community Survey 3-year data.




FPI April 2010                                                                               2
                                                                                     Across the Spectrum



       2. Immigrants are spread across the economic spectrum
        Examining five broad occupational categories gives a general overview of the
       occupations immigrants have in the 25 largest metro areas.

       Figure 2 shows the share of immigrants working in each of five occupational categories:
       1) Managerial and professional specialty occupations (e.g., executives, financial
       managers, doctors, and engineers); 2) Technical, sales (both higher- and lower-level sales
       positions), and administrative support job; 3) Service jobs (e.g., food services, building
       services, protective services); 4) Blue-collar jobs in construction and production; and 5)
       Farming, fishing, and forestry.

                                                                                                                                      The impression that
    Immigrant occupations in 25 largest metro areas                                                                                   sometimes emerges
                                                              2006-08
                                                                                                                                      in public discussions
   New York                  26%                         24%                         25%                         24%             1%   is that immigrants are
  Los Angeles            22%                       24%                         20%                         31%               3%       primarily working in
     Chicago             22%                      21%                     20%                             35%                2%
                                                                                                                                      low-skilled jobs, but
       Dallas          17%                 18%                 18%                                  44%                      3%
 Philadelphia                   32%                            23%                      20%                     21%          3%
                                                                                                                                      this broad overview
     Houston            19%                  19%                    20%                              39%                     3%       shows that this is far
       Miami              22%                           30%                          21%                        25%          2%       from the case.
  Washington                    32%                            24%                       22%                      21%        2%       Immigrants are
      Atlanta             23%                          23%                 17%                            34%                3%
                                                                                                                                      spread surprisingly
      Boston                   31%                            23%                        24%                      20%        1%
      Detroit                      36%                              25%                      17%                 21%         2%
                                                                                                                                      evenly across the
San Francisco                  29%                            26%                       21%                      21%         3%       first four broad
     Phoenix           16%                 17%                 22%                                 38%                      8%        occupational
    Riverside         16%                   22%                    18%                              39%                     6%        categories, with a
      Seattle                 28%                            24%                     20%                        25%          3%
                                                                                                                                      small share in
 Minneapolis                25%                         23%                       23%                           27%              1%
   San Diego                26%                         23%                       23%                       24%              5%
                                                                                                                                      farming, fishing, and
    St. Louis                   33%                                24%                   19%                     21%         3%       forestry. In the 25
      Tampa                24%                          25%                      19%                       27%               4%       metro areas as a
    Baltimore                       38%                                  24%                  18%                 19%        1%
                                                                                                                                      whole, a quarter of
      Denver            18%                 19%                      25%                                 35%                 3%
   Pittsburgh                              50%                                         25%                 13%          11% 0%
                                                                                                                                      all immigrants work
    Portland              23%                     20%                      21%                       28%                    8%        in managerial and
   Cincinnati                        39%                                 22%                 15%                 23%             1%   professional specialty
   Cleveland                      35%                              21%                  17%                     24%          2%       occupations (24
25 metro areas            24%                          23%                       21%                        29%              3%
                                                                                                                                      percent) and roughly
 United States            23%                      22%                         21%                        30%                4%
                                                                                                                                      another quarter (23
                 0%      10%         20%         30%         40%         50%      60%         70%         80%         90%    100%
                                                                                                                                      percent) work in
                 Managerial and professional specialty occupations
                 Technical, sales, and administrative support occupations                                                             technical, sales, and
                 Service occupations
                 Blue-collar occupations
                                                                                                                                      administrative
                 Farming, fishing, and forestry                                                                                       support occupations.
   Figure 2.                                                                                                                          Somewhat less than a
   Universe is immigrants 16 years or older employed in the civilian                                                                  quarter (21 percent)
   labor force. In metropolitan areas, farming, fishing and forestry jobs                                                             work in service jobs,
   are largely in landscaping and gardening.
   Source: Fiscal Policy Institute analysis of 2006-08 ACS.

       FPI April 2010                                                                                                                                     3
                                          Across the Spectrum


and somewhat more (29 percent) in blue-collar jobs. The remaining three percent work in
farming, fishing, and forestry—in metro areas, these are mostly landscaping and
gardening jobs.

There is significant variation across the metro areas. A striking share of immigrants in
metro Pittsburgh, for example, are managers and professionals, while metro areas such as
Dallas, Riverside and Phoenix have a considerably larger than average share of
immigrants working in blue-collar jobs.


3. Immigrants work in higher-wage as well as lower-wage jobs

                                                            Immigrants working in the 25 largest
                                                           metro areas are roughly equally
                                                           divided between the two mostly
                                                           higher-wage broad occupational
                                                           categories and the three mostly lower-
                                                           wage categories. Overall, 48 percent of
                                                           immigrants work in white-collar
                                                           jobs—managerial, professional, sales,
                                                           and administrative support. By
                                                           comparison, 52 percent work in
                                                           service, blue-collar, or farming, fishing
                                                           and forestry jobs. In 13 of the 25
                                                           largest metro areas, there are more
                                                           immigrants working in the mostly
                                                           higher-wage white-collar jobs than in
                                                           the mostly lower-wage service, blue-
                                                           collar, or farming fishing and forestry
                                                           jobs. (Figure 3a.)

                                                           In Immigrants and the Economy, we
                                                           looked at the same data for the
                                                           combined years 2005-07. The results
                                                           are similar, with 47.3 percent of
                                                           immigrants in the two generally
                                                           higher-wage occupations compared to
                                                           47.7 percent in 2006-08, and 13 of 25
                                                           metro areas showing the majority of
                                                           immigrants in the mostly higher-wage
                                                           jobs, the same as for 2006-08.


Figure 3a.                                                 To get some preliminary indication of
Universe is immigrants 16 years or older, employed in      whether the recession was affecting the
the civilian labor force.                                  balance of immigrants in generally
* Farming and forestry also includes fisheries.
Source: Fiscal Policy Institute analysis of 2006-08 ACS.

FPI April 2010                                                                                     4
                                        Across the Spectrum


higher-wage jobs, we also looked at data for the single year of 2008. The ACS asks
respondents throughout the year about earnings over the previous 12 months, so 2008
data reflect earnings in 2007 as well. For this reason, and because some areas did not
enter the recession until mid 2008, the data do not capture the recession very well.

What the 2008 data show is consistent with the other two samples. In 2008, the share of
immigrants in mostly higher-wage jobs is 48.1 percent, and the number of metro areas in
which the majority of immigrants work in mostly higher-wage occupations is 14—one
                                                  more than in the 2006-08 sample
                                                  because of a very slight increase in the
                                                  share of immigrants in higher-wage
                                                  jobs in metro Tampa. To get a true
                                                  picture of whether this is affected by
                                                  the recession will require data from the
                                                  not-yet-released 2009 ACS.

                                                        What’s clear from this broad overview
                                                        is that immigrants are spread across
                                                        the occupational spectrum; they are not
                                                        concentrated just or even primarily in
                                                        low-wage jobs.

                                                        At the same time, it is important to
                                                        note that immigrants are still not as
                                                        likely as U.S.-born workers to be in
                                                        higher-wage jobs. For a discussion of
                                                        how immigrants fare compared to
                                                        U.S.-born workers, please see
                                                        Immigrants and the Economy.




Figure 3b.
Universe is immigrants 16 years or older, employed in
the civilian labor force.
* Farming and forestry also includes fishing.
Source: Fiscal Policy Institute analysis of 2008 ACS.




FPI April 2010                                                                                  5
                                                                                         Across the Spectrum


            4. A closer look: detailed occupations of immigrants

            Broad occupational categories allow for an overview of many metro areas at the same
            time. The detailed occupations that fit into those broad categories give a more in-depth
            view of where immigrants work.

            In the 25 metro areas combined, 11 percent of all immigrants work in executive,
            administrative, and managerial jobs—the largest of any single occupation. Another 10
            percent work in administrative support jobs, followed by 7 percent each in food
            preparation services and skilled construction trades jobs (such as carpenters or
            electricians). (Figure 4.)

         Immigrant occupations in 25 largest metro areas                                                       Very few immigrants
                                          Detailed occupations, 2006-08                                        are firefighters,
                                                                                                               police, or supervisors
                                                    0%          3%         6%             9%    12%   15%      of protective
         Executive, administrative, managerial                                                  11%
                                                                                                               services, but
Professional specialty (incl. doctors, engineers,
                                                                                                               immigrants are
                                                                           5%
                   lawyers)                                                                                    otherwise spread
     Registered nurses, pharmacists, and health
                     therapists
                                                                2%                                             widely across all
         Teachers, professors, librarians, social
                                                                               6%
                                                                                                               occupations.
          scientists, social workers, & artists
        Technicians (incl.health, engineering &
                                                                      4%
                       science)                                                                                These 21 detailed
       Sales (supervisors, real estate, finance &
                      insurance)
                                                                      4%                                       occupations fit into
                       Sales (clerks & cashiers)                               6%
                                                                                                               the 5 broad
                                                                                                               occupational
         Administrative support (incl. clerical)                                               10%
                                                                                                               categories in Figure
          Private household & personal service                                  6%                             2, according to the
Firefighters, police & supervisors of protective
                                                         0.4%                                                  color coding of the
                     services
                                                                                                               bars. Detailed
        Guards, cleaning, and building services                       4%
                                                                                                               occupations may not
                      Food preparation services                                      7%                        sum exactly to broad
                Dental, health, & nursing aides                      3%                                        categories because of
                                                                                                               rounding. For a full
                         Mechanics & repairers                   3%
                                                                                                               breakdown of the
                            Construction trades                                     7%                         occupational
                           Precision production                 2%                                             categories, see
                                                                                                               Appendix B of
                             Machine operators                        4%
                                                                                                               Immigrants and the
                                     Fabricators                2%
                                                                                                               Economy.
     Drivers (incl. heavy equiptment operators)                           4%

Construction laborers & other material handlers                                6%

               Farming, forestry & agriculture                   3%

 Figure 4.
 Universe is immigrants 16 years or older, employed in the civilian labor
 force. Farming, fishing and forestry includes landscaping and gardeners.
 Source: Fiscal Policy Institute analysis of 3-year data, 2006-2008 ACS.

            FPI April 2010                                                                                                          6
                                                                                 Across the Spectrum



        The share of immigrants in higher-skilled jobs is even more pronounced in a handful of
        metro areas where the overall number of immigrants is rather small. In Pittsburgh, with
        the highest concentration of immigrants in the higher-wage jobs, 16 percent of all
        immigrants work in executive, administrative, and managerial positions, and another 20
        percent work in the professional specialties. (See appendix.)

                                                                                                         In St. Louis, another
           Immigrant occupations in St.Louis metro area                                                  metro area with a
                                         Detailed occupations, 2006-08                                   very high share of
                                                    0%          3%        6%          9%    12%    15%   immigrants in highly
         Executive, administrative, managerial                                             10%           skilled jobs, ten
Professional specialty (incl. doctors, engineers,                                                 14%
                                                                                                         percent of
                   lawyers)                                                                              immigrants work in
     Registered nurses, pharmacists, and health
                     therapists
                                                                2%                                       executive,
         Teachers, professors, librarians, social
          scientists, social workers, & artists
                                                                                 7%                      administrative and
        Technicians (incl.health, engineering &
                                                                                7%
                                                                                                         managerial jobs,
                       science)
       Sales (supervisors, real estate, finance &
                                                                                                         another 14 percent
                      insurance)
                                                                      4%
                                                                                                         in the professional
                       Sales (clerks & cashiers)                           5%                            specialties, and
         Administrative support (incl. clerical)                                 7%                      another 7 percent
                                                                                                         each as technicians
          Private household & personal service                                  6%
                                                                                                         and in the category
Firefighters, police & supervisors of protective
                     services
                                                         0.3%                                            that includes
        Guards, cleaning, and building services                  3%                                      teachers, professors,
                      Food preparation services                                      8%
                                                                                                         librarians, social
                                                                                                         workers, and artists.
                Dental, health, & nursing aides                 2%
                                                                                                         (Figure 5.)
                         Mechanics & repairers                   3%

                            Construction trades                      3%

                           Precision production                  3%

                             Machine operators                        4%

                                     Fabricators                2%

     Drivers (incl. heavy equiptment operators)                      3%

Construction laborers & other material handlers                  3%

               Farming, forestry & agriculture                   3%




      Figure 5.
      Universe is immigrants 16 years or older, employed in the civilian
      labor force. In metro St. Louis, differences between numbers less
      than three percent are not statistically significant.
      Source: Fiscal Policy Institute analysis of 3-year data, 2006-08 ACS.




        FPI April 2010                                                                                                      7
                                                                                Across the Spectrum


 At the other end of the spectrum is a metro area such as Dallas. There, the occupation
 with the largest number of immigrants is skilled construction trades (13 percent), with
 another 10 percent working as construction laborers or other materials movers. (Figure
 6.)

 Yet, even in metro Dallas, a significant number of immigrants work in higher-skilled
 jobs. Eight percent of immigrant workers in metro Dallas are employed in executive,
 administrative, and managerial jobs, for example—the same number as are employed in
 food preparation services.

        Immigrant occupations in Dallas metro area                                                             A table with data
                                     Detailed occupations, 2006-08                                             for each of the 25
                                                     0%          3%         6%        9%     12%         15%
                                                                                                               largest metro areas
                                                                                                               is in the appendix to
          Executive, administrative, managerial                                       8%
                                                                                                               this report. Charts
 Professional specialty (incl. doctors, engineers,
                    lawyers)
                                                                      4%                                       for individual metro
      Registered nurses, pharmacists, and health
                      therapists
                                                             1%                                                areas based on the
          Teachers, professors, librarians, social
                                                                       4%
                                                                                                               data here are
           scientists, social workers, & artists
         Technicians (incl.health, engineering &
                                                                                                               available upon
                                                                      3%
                        science)                                                                               request.
        Sales (supervisors, real estate, finance &
                                                                  3%
                       insurance)

                        Sales (clerks & cashiers)                          4%

          Administrative support (incl. clerical)                                    7%

           Private household & personal service                             5%

 Firefighters, police & supervisors of protective
                                                          0.1%
                      services

         Guards, cleaning, and building services                           4%

                       Food preparation services                                      8%

                 Dental, health, & nursing aides             1%

                          Mechanics & repairers                        4%

                             Construction trades                                                   13%

                            Precision production                  3%

                              Machine operators                                 6%

                                      Fabricators                      4%

      Drivers (incl. heavy equiptment operators)                            5%

 Construction laborers & other material handlers                                           10%

                Farming, forestry & agriculture                       3%




Figure 6.
Universe is immigrants 16 years or older, employed in the civilian labor force.
Source: Fiscal Policy Institute analysis of 3-year data, 2006-2008 ACS.




 FPI April 2010                                                                                                                   8
                                       Across the Spectrum




5. Legal status makes a difference

The analysis so far has included all immigrants, documented and undocumented. Below,
we use data from the Pew Hispanic Center to look at undocumented immigrants.

Immigrants who are not authorized to work in the United States are far more likely to be
in lower-skilled jobs than immigrants overall. In general, undocumented immigrants have
lower educational levels than legal immigrants, and employers of higher-skilled workers
may be less likely to risk hiring undocumented immigrants.

Nonetheless, it is worth noting that not all undocumented immigrants are in jobs
requiring lower skill levels.

The Pew Hispanic Center has estimated that about four percent of undocumented
immigrants (also called “unauthorized immigrants”) work in management, business, and
finance. Another five percent work in professional and related jobs. Far more, of course,
work in generally lower-wage jobs in services (30 percent), construction (21 percent),
and production (12 percent). The data source and occupational categories are different
than those used in the FPI study, so the numbers cannot be directly compared, but the
overall relationship is clear: most immigrants work in lower-skilled jobs, but the number
in higher-skilled jobs is not trivial. (Figure 7.)

As Jeffrey S. Passel of the Pew Hispanic Center explains it, “The large majority of

           Unauthorized immigrants are mostly, but far from
           all, in lower-skilled jobs




           Figure 7.
           Source: “A Portrait of Unauthorized Immigrants in the United States,” Jeffrey
           S. Passel and D'Vera Cohn, Pew Research Center, 2009. Based on 2008 CPS
           March Supplement.



FPI April 2010                                                                              9
                                  Across the Spectrum


unauthorized immigrants work in low-skilled occupations. But there are a number, for
example students who have overstayed visas or unauthorized immigrants who have
started businesses, who work in higher-skilled jobs.”




FPI April 2010                                                                         10
                                                         Across the Spectrum


6. Variation by country of origin

Figure 8 shows the broad occupational categories of immigrants by country of birth, with
the countries listed in descending order of the number of immigrants from each country
working in the 25 largest metro areas.

Mexican, Salvadoran, Dominican, and Honduran workers are clearly more concentrated
among blue-collar and service jobs. Immigrants from the Philippines, Korea, Canada,


                        Jobs of immigrants by country of birth
                                      25 metro areas combined, 2006-08

                    Mexico      7%        14%               24%                              48%                       7%

               Philippines                      38%                            32%                  17%              12% 0%

                      India                           50%                                   36%                5%     9% 0%

               El Salvador      8%          16%                    31%                             40%                 4%

                     China                      37%                        26%                    22%               15% 0%

                   Vietnam             23%                     25%                   24%                  27%           1%

                      Cuba                24%                      30%                16%                 29%           1%

                     Korea                       40%                             34%                    13%         13% 0%

     Dominican Republic             14%               24%                      34%                        28%           1%

               Guatemala        8%         14%                 28%                            44%                      7%

                   Jamaica                26%                      28%                      28%                 18%     1%

                 Colombia                 24%                   27%                    24%                    24%       1%

                      Haiti          17%                 23%                         37%                       21%      2%

                   Canada                              55%                                   28%               7%     9% 1%

                    Poland                24%                20%               20%                       35%            0%

                   Ecuador          12%           20%                    26%                        40%                 1%

                       Peru           20%                    27%                     26%                   26%          1%

                 Honduras       8%         13%                 30%                                46%                   3%

                 Germany                           47%                                29%                12%         11% 1%

                       Italy                34%                          26%                17%               23%       1%

     All other immigrants                    35%                           28%                18%               19%     1%

           All immigrants                 24%                  23%               21%                     29%            3%

             All U.S.-born                      36%                            33%                 13%          16%     1%

                               0%     10%       20%      30%       40%     50%       60%     70%        80%     90% 100%

                                     Managerial and professional specialty occupations
                                     Technical, sales, and administrative support occupations
                                     Service occupations
                                     Blue-collar occupations
                                     Farming, fishing, and forestry

        Figure 8.
        Universe is immigrants 16 years or older employed in the civilian labor force. In metro areas,
        farming, fishing and forestry jobs are largely in landscaping and gardening.
        Source: Fiscal Policy Institute analysis of 2006-08 ACS.




FPI April 2010                                                                                                                11
                                                    Across the Spectrum


Russia, and Germany are clearly more concentrated among white-collar jobs. The overall
balance of immigrant occupations is roughly matched among immigrants from countries
such as Jamaica, Colombia, and Poland.

Immigrants come from all around the world to work in the country’s 25 largest metro
areas. Workers born in Mexico make up 27 percent of all immigrants working in the 25
largest metro areas. But after Mexico, no single country predominates: the next-largest
countries of birth are the Philippines, India, El Salvador, and China, each with four
percent of all immigrants working in the 25 largest metro areas. There are three percent
or less from a wide range of other countries.


7. Education levels of immigrant workers
Figure 9 shows the range of education levels of immigrants and U.S.-born workers.
Economic analyses of immigration frequently focus on low-skilled immigrants. While
that is appropriate in gauging the labor market impacts in particular parts of the economy,

 About half of immigrant workers have at least
 some college education




 Figure 9.
 Universe is immigrants 16 years and older, employed in the civilian labor force.
 Source: Fiscal Policy Institute analysis of 2006-08 ACS.




FPI April 2010                                                                             12
                                     Across the Spectrum


it is also important to recognize that this is a very partial view of the role of immigrants in
the economy. In the 25 largest metro areas combined, exactly half of immigrants have at
least some college education, while the other half have a high school degree or less. The
number with at least some college varies from lows in Phoenix (34 percent) and Dallas
(35 percent) to highs in Baltimore (69 percent) and Pittsburgh (79 percent).

Immigrants are by no means just or even primarily workers with low levels of education.
On the other hand, it is also clear that U.S.-born workers have considerably higher
educational levels than immigrants in almost all metro areas. The exceptions are
Baltimore, Pittsburgh, Cincinnati, and Cleveland—again, slower-growing metro areas
with relatively small overall levels of immigration.


8. Immigration and economic growth
Immigrants and the Economy examined the relationship of immigration to economic
growth. Figure 10a updates this analysis using data from the 2008 ACS.

The analysis of 2008 data shows the same general pattern as the analysis of 2005-07 data
in Immigrants and the Economy: immigration and economic growth of metro areas go
hand in hand. Where there is faster economic growth, the immigrant share of the labor
force increases faster, and conversely where there is slow economic growth there is
modest growth in immigrant share of the labor force.

This is particularly true at the two ends of the growth spectrum. The fastest-growing
metro areas—Phoenix, Denver, Atlanta, Portland, Houston, Dallas—all have very strong
growth in immigrant share of the labor force. On the other hand, the slowest-growing
metro areas—Cleveland, Pittsburgh and Detroit—have among the slowest growth in
immigrant share of the economy.

That is not to say that immigration causes growth, but rather that immigration is part of
the story of economic growth. Immigrants are drawn by economic expansion, and once
they are in a metro area they earn and spend money, expand consumer demand, start
small businesses to meet new needs, and fuel further growth.

It should be noted that economic growth does not guarantee that pay or other employment
conditions improve significantly for workers. A metro area such as Pittsburgh may be
eager for more residents and workers to help expand the tax base. But Pittsburgh
residents will also be concerned about whether that growth is good for their wages.
Figure 10a shows that growth in earnings per worker can go up together with overall
growth, as in Phoenix and Denver; or, earnings per worker can move very slowly even
with overall economic growth, as in metro Riverside. Other local conditions besides just
immigration play a more important role in determining whether or not wages go up.
Certainly economic growth and immigration growth are not incompatible with strong
wage increases, but neither do they guarantee strong increases.



FPI April 2010                                                                              13
                                                     Across the Spectrum


Similarly, it is important to note that economic growth in the short term can cause
problems in the long term. The economic growth of metro Phoenix, for example, was
clearly part of an unsustainable housing bubble. Immigrants were drawn to and
contributed to this bubble economy, but it could hardly be argued that they created it.

Because the Great Recession has had a dramatic impact that is not uniform across metro
areas, we also reproduced the same chart using just the 2008 ACS. As noted above, the
2008 ACS does not capture the full impact of the recession. Many metro areas were



Growth in immigrant share of labor force and metro area
economic growth go hand in hand
1990 to 2006-08




Figure 10a.
Source: FPI analysis of 1990 Census and 2006-08 3-year ACS data. Growth is measured in inflation-adjusted dollars. Universe for
labor force is people 16 years of age and older and in the civilian labor force. Growth in earnings per worker based on wage and
salary earnings for workers employed in the civilian labor force aged 16 and older reporting at least $100 in wage and salary income.
Universe for proprietors’ income is people 16 and older who reported proprietors' income. Economic growth of metro area is
measured as percent growth in aggregate wage and salary earnings plus proprietors' income. Earnings per worker divides aggregate
earnings by total civilian labor force. The denominator thus includes employees, self-employed workers, and business owners, as well
as unemployed workers.



FPI April 2010                                                                                                                     14
                                                      Across the Spectrum


 expanding for part of 2008 and in recession for part of the year, and the ACS asks
 respondents about earnings in the previous 12 months, so the data from the 2008 ACS
 partly reflect 2007 earnings. As a result, while the data in Figure 10b do not show the
 effects of the recession, they do indicate that the findings about the correlation of
 immigration and growth are robust. The findings noted above hold generally true for
 Figure 10b as well.

 Comparing the findings on growth with the findings in Figure 2 on occupations held by
 immigrants, it is interesting to see that many of the slowest-growing metro areas are the

Growth in immigrant share of labor force and metro area
economic growth go hand in hand
1990 to 2008




Figure 10b.
Source: FPI analysis of 1990 Census and 2008 ACS data. Growth is measured in inflation-adjusted dollars. Universe for labor force is
people 16 years of age and older and in the civilian labor force. Growth in earnings per worker based on wage and salary earnings for
workers employed in the civilian labor force aged 16 and older reporting at least $100 in wage and salary income. Universe for
proprietors’ income is people 16 and older who reported proprietors' income. Economic growth of metro area is measured as percent
growth in aggregate wage and salary earnings plus proprietors’ income. Earnings per worker divides aggregate earnings by total
civilian labor force. The denominator thus includes employees, self-employed workers, and business owners, as well as unemployed
workers.




 FPI April 2010                                                                                                                    15
                                    Across the Spectrum


ones where the largest share of immigrants are in higher-wage jobs.

What is perhaps surprising at first blush is clearer upon further analysis. Metro areas such
as Cleveland, Pittsburgh, or Detroit have comparatively few immigrants. Institutions
there such as universities, hospitals, and large companies draw on a global talent pool for
doctors, engineers, and executives as do similar institutions around the country. Yet, with
very little overall economic growth, immigrants looking for jobs in restaurants or
construction are not likely to come to these metro areas. Perhaps more appropriate than
saying these metro areas have a large share of highly skilled immigrants would be to say
that they have a missing cohort of low-skilled immigrants.

In metro Cleveland, for example, there are about 9,000 immigrants working in executive,
administrative or managerial jobs, and another 8,000 in professional specialties. Both are
considerably smaller numbers than in most metro areas. But, with few immigrants
overall, these two detailed occupations alone make up 17,000 out of the 66,000
immigrants working in metro Cleveland.




FPI April 2010                                                                            16
                                    Across the Spectrum




Conclusion

It is a popular misconception that immigrants are overwhelmingly concentrated in
construction, food service, janitorial, or other low-wage jobs. While there are indeed
many immigrants working in each of these jobs, in the 25 largest metro areas combined
there are about as many immigrants working in white-collar jobs as there are in blue-
collar, service, farming, fishing and forestry jobs combined. In 14 of the 25 largest metro
areas, there are more immigrants in white-collar jobs than in all other jobs combined.

Immigration is also closely connected with metro area economic growth. In areas where
the economy has grown significantly over the past two decades, immigration has also
grown significantly; in places where the economy has not grown as much, neither has
immigration. This close association of immigration and growth is readily explained:
immigrants go where there are jobs, and when they do they earn money, buy goods and
services, bring new ideas, start businesses, and generally contribute to economic growth.
This is not to say that immigrants cause growth, but rather that immigration and
economic growth go hand in hand. It is also important to bear in mind that economic
growth is not always accompanied by strong growth in wages or improvements in
working conditions for workers. Strong growth in immigrant share of the labor force can
be compatible with strong growth in average earnings, but it is no guarantee of growth in
wages, even where the overall metro area economy may be growing quickly.

Finally, it is interesting to note that the metro areas where immigrants are most
concentrated in higher-wage jobs are also the metro areas that have seen the slowest
economic growth over the past two decades. Of course, this is not because more skilled
immigrants put a damper on growth. It’s because those metro areas are attracting a
modest number of highly skilled immigrants, but very few less-skilled immigrants—
understandably enough, since less-skilled immigrants are unlikely to go to metro areas
where they would have a very hard time finding jobs.




FPI April 2010                                                                           17
                                   Across the Spectrum




Appendix

Figure 10 shows the detailed occupations for the 25 largest metropolitan areas of the
United States.

Charts from this data are available upon request.




FPI April 2010                                                                          18
                                   Across the Spectrum


Expert Advisory Panel
FPI’s Immigration Research Initiative

Algernon Austin, director of the Race, Ethnicity, and the Economy program of the
Economic Policy Institute.
Muzaffar Chishti, director of the Migration Policy Institute’s office at the New York
University School of Law.
Gregory DeFreitas, professor of economics and director of the labor studies program,
Hofstra University. He is author of Inequality at Work: Hispanics in the U.S. Economy,
and editor of Young Workers in the Global Economy.
Maralyn Edid, senior extension associate, Cornell University’s ILR School.
Héctor Figueroa, secretary-treasurer, 32BJ of the Service Employees International
Union.
Nancy Foner, distinguished professor of sociology at Hunter College and the Graduate
Center of the City University of New York, and author of From Ellis Island to JFK: New
York's Two Great Waves of Immigration and In a New Land: A Comparative View of
Immigration.
Philip Kasinitz, professor of Sociology, CUNY Graduate Center, and author of
Caribbean New York: Black Immigrants and the Politics of Race and co-author (with
John H. Mollenkopf, Mary C. Waters, and Jennifer Holdaway) of Inheriting the City: The
Children of Immigrants Come of Age.
Peter Kwong, professor of urban affairs, Hunter College, and co-author (with Dušanka
Miščević) of Chinese America, The New Chinatown, Forbidden Workers: Illegal Chinese
Immigrants and American Labor.
Ray Marshall, Former Secretary of Labor, Audre and Bernard Rapoport Centennial
Chair in Economics and Public Affairs at the University of Texas, Austin, and chair of
the AFL-CIO Immigration Task Force.
John H. Mollenkopf, distinguished professor of Political Science and Sociology at the
Graduate Center of the City University of New York and director of the Center for Urban
Research, and coauthor (with Philip Kasinitz, Mary C. Waters, and Jennifer Holdaway)
of Inheriting the City: The Children of Immigrants Come of Age.
Jeffrey S. Passel, senior demographer, Pew Hispanic Center.
Max J. Pfeffer, Professor of Development Sociology at Cornell University.
Rae Rosen, senior economist and assistant vice president, Federal Reserve Bank of New
York.
Heidi Shierholz, economist, Economic Policy Institute.
Roger Waldinger, distinguished professor of Sociology at UCLA, and author of
Strangers at the Gates: New Immigrants in Urban America, Through the Eye of the
Needle: Immigrants and Enterprise in New York’s Garment Trades, and Still the
Promised City?: African Americans and New Immigrants in Post-Industrial New York.


FPI April 2010                                                                           19

								
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