Immigrants overall, Hispanic and non-Hispanic combined, assumed a greater share of the U.S. workforce and employment in 2013 than they did in 2007. That is because the ongoing inflow of non-Hispanic immigrants was sufficient to compensate for the reduced inflow of Hispanic immigrants. But since the recession started in 2007, both foreign-born and U.S.-born workers have experienced slower growth in employment than in the size of their workforces.
Immigrants, in total, gained 2.1 million jobs in the economic recovery from 2009 to 2013. That is considerably more than the loss of 0.9 million jobs in the recession. Their employment rate rose modestly in the recovery, from 60.5% in the fourth quarter of 2009 to 61.7% in the fourth quarter of 2013.
However, over the full cycle of the recession and the recovery, employment gains for immigrants did not keep pace with population growth. Thus, the 61.7% employment rate for immigrants in the fourth quarter of 2013 was still several percentage points less than the 65% it was in the fourth quarter of 2007.
U.S.-born workers gained 4.3 million jobs in the recovery. But their employment rate was unchanged, standing at 57.8% in the fourth quarter of 2009 and at 58.1% in the fourth quarter of 2013.
But the number of jobs held by U.S.-born workers in the fourth quarter of 2013 was still 2.6 million less than the number employed in the fourth quarter of 2007. Like immigrants, the U.S. born also have experienced a decline in the employment rate in the six years since the start of the recession, from 62.5% in 2007 to 58.1% in 2013.
Unemployment rates have trended similarly for U.S.-born and foreign-born workers in the recession and the recovery. The unemployment rate for immigrants was 4.6% in the fourth quarter of 2007, on par with the rate for U.S.-born workers. After rising more sharply during the recession, the unemployment rate for immigrants dipped to 6.5% in the fourth quarter of 2013. That is about the same as the 6.7% unemployment rate among U.S.-born workers in 2013.
Because the foreign-born population is growing more rapidly than the U.S.-born population, the role of immigrants in the U.S. labor market continues to expand. In the past, this long-run demographic trend was driven by Latino immigrants. Since the start of the recession, the baton has passed to non-Hispanic immigrants. With respect to the working-age population, the share that is foreign-born rose from 15% in 2007 to 15.7% in 2013.14 Accordingly, the immigrant share in total employment increased from 15.5% in 2007 to 16.5% in 2013.