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Nearly 1 in 3.6 Working-Age, Native-Born Americans Not in the Labor Force

While the Obama Administration touts the lower unemployment rate, the number of working-age, native-born Americans out of the workforce has remained “virtually unchanged” over the past four years, according to a Center for Immigration Studies analysis of government employment statistics.

The report, authored by CIS’ director of research Steven Camarota, reveals that during the first quarter of 2016, nearly 48.5 million working-age, native-born Americans were not in the labor force. In other words, 28 percent of American-born citizens ages 16 to 65 years old were neither employed nor looking for work.

According to Camarota, the percentage of working-age natives out of the workforce has been lower over past quarters. During the first quarter of 2000 just 22.9 percent of working-age natives were out of the workforce and in the first quarter of 2007, 25.3 percent of working-age natives were out of the workforce.

“Moreover, the number of working-age (16 to 65) natives holding a job in the first quarter of 2016 was about the same as it was in the first quarter of 2007,” Camarota writes, pointing out that there were 2.5 million more immigrants holding jobs in the U.S. during the first quarter of 2016 than the the first quarter of 2007.

The unemployment rate for natives during the first quarter of 2016 was 5.5 percent. As Camarota details, that combined with the number of working-age natives not in the workforce, means that during the first quarter of 2016, some 55.4 million working-age, native-born Americans were without jobs.

Meanwhile, in that same period, another 11 million working-age immigrants were also unemployed or not in the workforce.

“Donald Trump’s focus on immigration and jobs has resonated with the American public,” Camarota said in a statement. “Many Americans are experiencing, or are watching others experience, the country’s poor employment situation and are dismissing the official unemployment rate. There is certainly no evidence of a labor shortage, and the public knows it.”

As Camarota details in the report, the situation is also striking for people without a bachelor’s degree. During the first quarter of 2016, just 65 percent of native-born Americans ages 18-65 years old without a bachelor’s degree had a job, lower than the 69.4 percent registered in the first quarter of 2007 and 72.2 percent in 2000.

“Combining those not in the labor force and those unemployed shows 39.7 million native-born Americans without a bachelor’s degree not working in the first quarter of 2016, compared to 31 million in the same quarter of 2000,” Camarota reports.

Another 7.9 million immigrants in the U.S. without a bachelor’s degree were likewise either unemployed or out of the labor force.

“The key policy question facing the country with regard to immigration is: Does it make sense to continue to admit a million new permanent immigrants each year, along with several hundred thousand guest workers, given the enormous pool of working-age people not working?” Camarota asked in his report.

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