Foreign-Born Workforce at Two Decade High

Some 17% of the U.S. workforce was born outside of the country

The share of foreign-born workers in the U.S. labor force is at a two decade high, according to recently released labor data.

Nearly 17% of the total U.S. labor force was foreign-born in 2015, according to the Labor Department, meaning some 26.3 million workers born outside of the United States. That’s the highest share of the workforce since the Census Bureau started gathering information about the foreign born on the Current Population Survey in 1994.

The foreign-born population are those living in the U.S. who were born outside of the country, including immigrants, refugees, temporary residents (i.e. students) and the undocumented. The labor survey does not separately identify totals for each category.

Of the total foreign-born worker population, Hispanics accounted for 48.8% and 24.1% were Asian, while 73.4% of the native-born workforce was white. Foreign-born workers were more likely to be employed in service positions, construction and production, while the native-born workforce was more likely to be in management and office occupations, according to the Labor Department.


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