Immigrants are not taking jobs from U.S.-born Americans. While the foreign-born population has grown at a far faster rate than the U.S.-born population, the past decade or more has seen almost no divergence in foreign- and U.S.-born unemployment rates. In 2000, U.S.-born unemployment stood at 3.7 percent, compared with 3.9 percent for foreign-born workers. Unemployment for both groups spiked during the recession, and by 2014, U.S.-born unemployment had settled at 5.6 percent, with foreign-born unemployment at 5.3 percent.
U.S.-born Americans are more likely to exit the workforce to enroll in school, to retire, or as a result of disability. Between 2000 and 2014, both disability and school enrollment increased by 1.7 percentage points among the U.S.-born population, and retirement rose by 1.9 percentage points. Meanwhile, these factors barely budged for the foreign-born population, rising by less than a half of a percentage point for each.
Immigrants are more likely than U.S.-born Americans to own a business. According to the Small Business Administration, immigrants are more likely to be business owners and immigrant-owned firms are more likely to hire employees. The business ownership rate is 10.5 percent for the immigrant workforce, compared with 9.3 percent for the U.S.-born workforce.
The top industries employing foreign-born workers include construction, building, and maintenance. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, “construction and extraction” is the most popular industry for immigrant workers, employing 9 percent, followed by “building, grounds cleaning and maintenance” at 8.7 percent.
Immigration helps spur innovation, fill labor shortages, and complement the U.S.-born workforce. A recent study by American Behavioral Scientist noted declining birthrates and increased degree attainment among U.S.-born Americans, which has contributed to a shortage of lesser-skilled labor that immigration has helped to fill. Lesser-skilled immigration complements higher-skill U.S.-born workers, allowing them to specialize and upskill. At the same time, high-skilled immigrants can be a boon to innovation, increasing U.S.-born employment and wages.