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BLS: Foreign-Born Workers Make Up 17% of U.S. Workforce, Largest Share in History


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Newly released data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) shows that the percentage of foreign-born workers in the U.S. workforce is at a two-decade high. In 2015 there were 26.3 million foreign-born persons in the U.S. labor force, comprising 16.7 percent of the total. 

The figure is the highest since the BLS began gathering info on foreign-born workers in 1994.  

The “foreign-born” category is comprised of workers living in the U.S. who were born outside of the country, including immigrants, refugees, temporary residents such as students, and undocumented workers.

The survey also found that:

-Hispanics accounted for 48.8 percent of the foreign-born labor force in 2015  and Asians accounted for 24.1 percent. (Data in this news release for persons who are White, Black, or Asian do not include those of Hispanic or Latino ethnicity. Data on persons of Hispanic or Latino ethnicity are presented separately.)

-Foreign-born workers were more likely than native-born workers to be employe in service occupations; natural resources, construction, and maintenance occupations; and production, transportation, and material moving occupations. Native-born workers were more likely than foreign-born workers to be employed in management, professional, and related occupations and sales and office occupations.

-The median usual weekly earnings of foreign-born full-time wage and salary workers were $681 in 2015, compared with $837 for their native-born counterparts. (See table 5.) (Differences in earnings reflect a variety of  factors, including variations in the distributions of foreign-born and native-born workers by educational attainment, occupation, industry, and geographic region.)

The revelations come at a crucial time, when the foreign worker visa system is being abused and American workers are being overlooked.


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