Since 1970, the immigrant populations from Mexico and Central America living in the United States have increased significantly: rising by a factor of 20 even as the total U.S. immigrant population increased four-fold over the period. This demographic report examines the age, educational, and workforce characteristics of these immigrants.
Notwithstanding the broad consensus on the benefits of highly skilled immigration, the economic role of less-skilled immigrants is one of the more controversial questions in the immigration debate. While less-skilled immigrants bring economic benefits for U.S. consumers, employers, and skilled workers, they impose some costs on U.S. workers competing for similar jobs.
Immigrants have been disproportionately hit by the global economic crisis that began in 2008 and now confront a number of challenges. The report, which has a particular focus on Germany, Ireland, Spain, the United Kingdom, and United States finds that the unemployment gap between immigrant and native workers has widened in many places.
Despite conventional wisdom that the U.S. immigrant workforce is shaped like an hourglass—wide at the top and the bottom but narrow in the middle— in reality immigrants are more evenly dispersed across the skills spectrum. This report shows that the fastest growth in immigrant employment since 2000 has occurred in middle-skilled jobs.