NCPA - National Center for Policy Analysis

Undocumented Workers' Employment Increases

February 23, 2004

Latinos have outpaced other ethnic groups in several key employment measures, according to a study being released today. Apparently much of the gain is among illegal or undocumented workers, since the number of working third-generation U.S. Hispanics actually declined.

Based on data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics and the Census Bureau, the Pew Hispanic Center at the University of Southern California estimates that the number of employed Hispanics increased 659,641 between the final quarters of 2002 and 2003 while there was a net gain among non-Hispanics of only 371,066. ("Net" because each year millions of new jobs are created and old ones are eliminated.)

  • Hispanic unemployment fell by more than 100,000 to an average of 7.1 percent in the last quarter of 2003 -- from 7.8 percent in the last quarter of 2002.
  • In contrast, the non-Hispanic average unemployment rate rose slightly to 5.4 percent in the period from 5.2 percent.
  • The number of foreign-born Latinos who found work was nearly 10 times that of the number of second-generation U.S. Hispanics.
  • The number of working third-generation U.S. Hispanics actually declined in the period.
  • Construction produced more than half of the Latino job gains.

A January 2004 Pew Center estimate put the number of undocumented aliens in the United States at 8 million to 9 million, growing 300,000 to 500,000 a year.

Source: Miriam Jordan, "Latinos Take the Lead in Job Gains," Wall Street Journal, February 23, 2004.


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