U.S.-born women lose ground in latest BLS jobs report

According to new data published by the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), between July and August the number of U.S.-born women over 16 with jobs declined by 90,000, from 59.25 million down to 59.16 million.

During that same time, the number of foreign-born women with jobs rose by 141,000, from 10.02 million in July to 10.16 million in August.

The increase in employment among women from July to August was captured exclusively by foreign workers. However, what is particularly remarkable about the BLS data set is that it represents a continuing longer-term decline in the employment of U.S.-born women.

Steven Camarota, director of research with the Center for Immigration Studies in Washington, D.C., said the BLS data is part of a long-term trend.

“All net gain in employment from 2000 to 2014 went to immigrants,” he said. “Immigrants seem to be getting jobs across the board; they’ve gained for jobs that require college educations, middle skills, high school educations and even high school dropouts.”

When asked why so many jobs are going to immigrants, Camarota postulated it comes down to simple prejudice. “There might be a prejudice against native-born minorities. You’ll find employers who will say they’ll hire immigrants over African-Americans.”

Camarota added there are also financial benefits to hiring immigrants. “With summer work travel programs, employers can hire temporary workers without having to pay Social Security and Medicare, and that saves them 7 percent compared to hiring a native-born worker.”

Furthermore, Camarota said, immigrants are much more mobile compared to natives, which is also attractive to employers. “They’re more willing to move where the jobs are. To get natives to move, you need to give them some incentive. Natives have roots; they own homes, they have children.”

Camarota said young Americans are at the greatest risk to suffer from this trend. “If you look at young people in particular, we see massive degrees of non-workers with teens and those in their 20s. The concern is those youngsters, even college grads who can’t get jobs, will have to be supported by the government or their parents.”

University of Houston law professor Michael Olivas, who teaches immigration law, said he rejects the BLS data.

“There is no indication that immigrants are replacing native workers,” he said. “These data are silos that don’t prove that point. The fact that one person gets a job doesn’t mean someone else doesn’t.”

Regarding the statistics that say immigrants are taking jobs from American women, he said, “Immigrants take jobs that the wage structure are jobs U.S. working women don’t want to take; jobs in agriculture, housekeeping, low-level jobs that don’t displace U.S. workers.”

He added the national unemployment rate is the lowest it has been since 2009.

“I think a lot of people who are losing jobs are losing government and manufacturing jobs, industries that have been shrinking,” he said. 

Rather, Olivas argued, according to the most recent census, 13 percent of Americans are foreign-born and that is what the BLS data is reflecting.

“You would expect a lot of jobs to go to immigrants," he said. "One in seven immigrants are working, that’s 40 million people. These folks do not compete with skilled U.S. workers. If U.S. workers were cutting the lettuce, employers would not be hiring Mexicans.”