Washington, D.C. (May 22, 2018) – The Center of Immigration Studies analysis of new Bureau of Labor Statistics data for the first quarter of 2018 shows that the labor force participation rate has not returned to pre-2007 recession levels, and relative to 2000 the rate looks even worse. Things are particularly bad for those without a college education. The problem is not confined to one area of the country; in virtually every state, labor force participation is lower in 2018 than in 2007 or 2000 among the less-educated.
While the unemployment rate has improved significantly in recent years, the official unemployment rate includes only those who say they have looked for a job in the last four weeks. It does not include those of working age who have dropped out of the labor force entirely – neither working nor looking for work.
Dr. Steven Camarota, the Center's director of research and author of the report, said, "The current low unemployment rate is misleading because it does not include people who have left the labor force entirely. There is an enormous pool of potential workers who could be drawn back into jobs if we let the market work, forcing employers to change recruiting practices, raise wages, and improve working conditions. Instead, some employers are lobbying to bring in more foreign workers to avoid having to make such changes."
View the entire report at: https://cis.org/Report/Employment-Situation-Immigrants-and-Natives-First-Quarter-2018
Among native-born Americans:
- The overall unemployment rate for natives in the first quarter of 2018 was 4.4 percent, much lower than at the peak of the Great Recession. However, the overall unemployment rate obscures the low labor force participation rate, especially among those without a college education.
- There has been a long-term decline in the labor force participation rate of working-age (18 to 65) natives without a bachelor's degree. Only 70 percent of natives in this group were in the labor force in the first quarter of 2018; in 2007, before the recession, it was 73.8 percent, and in the first quarter of 2000 it was 76.1 percent.
- The labor force participation rate of natives without a college degree has shown no meaningful improvement in recent years. For example, in the first quarter of 2012 it was actually slightly better than it was in the first quarter of 2018.
- The decline in labor force participation among those without a bachelor's degree is even more profound when it is measured relative to those who are more educated.
- In the first quarter of 2018, 70 percent of natives without a bachelor's degree were in the labor force, compared to 85.8 percent of those with a bachelor's degree — a 15.8 percentage-point difference. In the first quarter of 2007, the gap was 12.4 percentage points, and in the first quarter of 2000 the gap was 11.7 percentage points.
- In 48 states plus the District of Columbia, labor force participation of natives without a college degree was lower in the first quarter of 2018 than the same quarter in 2007. The same is true comparing 2000 to 2018.
- Working-age immigrants without a college education also have not fared well since the recession. Unlike the labor force participation of natives, immigrants without a college education did improve their situation between 2000 and 2007. But it has not returned to 2007 levels. Also like natives, there has been no meaningful progress in the last few years.
- In the first quarter of 2018, the labor force participation rate of immigrants (18 to 65) without a bachelor's degree was 71.9 percent, somewhat better than that of natives, but still below their rate of 73.4 percent in the first quarter of 2007.
Immigrants and natives not in the labor force:
- In the first quarter of 2018, there were a total of 50.1 million immigrants and natives ages 18 to 65 not in the labor force, up from 43.3 million in 2007 and 37.2 million in 2000.
- Of the 50.1 million currently not in the labor force, 39.9 million (80 percent) do not have a bachelor's degree.
- The above figures do not include the unemployed, who are considered to be part of the labor force because, although they are not working, they are looking for work. There were almost seven million unemployed immigrants and natives in the first quarter of this year; more than three-fourths of the unemployed do not have a bachelor's degree.