OpinionTrending Commentary

Foreign-Born Workers Are Taking Americans’ Jobs


Something very strange is going on in America’s labor market. The employer’s survey in the June jobs report showed 272,000 jobs gained in May, and nearly 2.8 million jobs over the past year. These are both amazing figures given that the economy is at full employment.

While the employer’s survey is surely fine, the household survey, also produced by the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), tells a strikingly different story, almost as though the country had two different labor markets.

The household survey indicates total employment is up a mere 376,000 over the past year. How can the employer’s survey show nearly eight times more jobs gained in a year than the other perfectly good household survey?

The mystery deepens as, according to the household survey, employment by native-born workers is down 299,000 over the last year. Down. Big time. Ouch.

If total employment is flat and native-born employment is down, who makes up the difference? Foreign-born workers. It’s all in black and white in the BLS data.

Some might dismiss such disparate results between the two surveys by noting the household survey employs a smaller sample and is thus less reliable month-to-month. This is both correct and irrelevant. The comparisons above are year-over-year, a timeframe easily long enough to put the employer and household surveys on the same statistical footing.

Another explanation is that employment is down for the native-born because American seniors are retiring in large numbers. Wrong; total employment for those 55 and older has risen according to the household survey. It could be older native-born workers are retiring in droves, their places taken by older illegals. Trouble is, the hundreds of photos and videos from the southern border show mostly young men and some families, not swarms of graying foreigners.

For years, anti-immigration voices warned immigrants were taking jobs from Americans. With the economy growing steadily, this warning exemplified the boy crying wolf. Employers could soak up all the domestic labor plus the immigration, often with substantial excess labor demand left over.

Thanks to President Joe Biden’s surge in illegals, the story has changed. Businesses are hiring rapidly as the employers’ survey shows. To a large extent they are hiring illegals as native-born employment is falling. The wolf is now through the door and collecting an American paycheck.

One might contest this conclusion by observing that employers may be prosecuted if they hire illegals. The statute is plain that an employer must in effect make a good faith effort to establish the work eligibility of a prospective employee. What if the Biden administration does not enforce the statute?

Refuse to enforce the law? The Biden administration? After it refuses to enforce the law to secure the border? Refusing to enforce inconvenient laws is a set pattern among progressives. Just look at the progressive district attorneys across the country refusing to prosecute all manner of offenses.

With moderate levels of immigration, the U.S. economy can absorb the influx with little trouble in most years. After Biden opened the southern border, the wolves crossed in hordes and now threaten the economic security of American workers. We do indeed have two labor markets. The labor market for foreign-born workers is booming. That for native-born workers—so much.

J.D. Foster is the former chief economist at the Office of Management and Budget and former chief economist and senior vice president at the U.S. Chamber of Commerce. He now resides in relative freedom in the hills of Idaho.

The views and opinions expressed in this commentary are those of the author and do not reflect the official position of the Daily Caller News Foundation.

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