WASHINGTON, DC — An illegal immigrant male residing in the United States is more likely to be gainfully employed than a male who is a legal immigrant or U.S.-born citizen, a senior demographer at the Pew Research Center think tank told lawmakers.
In 2012, the most recent year for which data is available, an estimated 91 percent of illegal immigrant males were in the workforce. This compares to 84 percent of legal immigrant men and 79 percent of U.S.-born males, Pew Research Center demographer Jeffrey Passel wrote in testimony prepared for a March 26 hearing held by the Senate Homeland Security & Government Affairs Committee.
Put in a different way, legal and illegal immigrant males had a better chance to be in the workforce than U.S.-born men in 2012.
For women, the opposite is true. U.S.-born women are more likely to be in the labor force than immigrant females.
“Unauthorized immigrant men of working age [16 years of age and older] are considerably more likely to be in the workforce than U.S.-born men (91% versus 79%),” Passel declared in his written testimony.
“For women, the opposite is true; only 61% of unauthorized immigrant women are in the labor force, compared with 72% of U.S.-born women,” Mr. Passel continued.
The data provided by the Pew demographer shows that U.S.-born females are more likely to be in the workforce than illegal immigrant women (61%) and legal immigrant women (68%), respectively.
In 2012, there were an estimated 10 million more males (82. 3 million) participating in the workforce than women (72.7 million), according to the U.S. Department of Labor.
Overall, there were an estimated 8.1 million workers who are not legally authorized to work, both men and women, participating in the labor force in 2012 by either working or looking for work. Illegal workers made up about 5.1 percent of the labor force, which translates to nearly one-in-twenty U.S. workers, explained Passel.
The labor participation rate covers individuals working or looking for work.
“Unauthorized immigrants are more likely than the overall U.S. population to be of working age and less likely to be young or older,” explained Mr. Passel. “That is one reason that the unauthorized immigrant share of the labor force is higher than its share of the population overall.”
“While there have been some modest changes in labor force participation rates over the past 20 years, the participation of unauthorized immigrant men and women, relative to the U.S.-born population and legal immigrants, has remained essentially unchanged since 2005,” he added.
The top three states with the highest share of illegal immigrants participating in the labor force are Nevada (10.2% of the workforce), California (9.4%), and Texas (8.9%), revealed the Pew Research Center.
Most work in either the service, hospitality, or construction industry.
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