Gang of 8 Bill Doesn't Reflect Reality of U.S. Labor Market

By CIS on April 18, 2013

WASHINGTON, DC (April 18, 2013) — The Senate immigration bill formally unveiled at this afternoon's news conference does not reflect the realities of the U.S. labor market, according to data compiled by the Center for Immigration Studies.

You can find the full report here:

The employment situation remains bleak for less-skilled Americans. Yet the bill, S. 744, gives virtually all of the 11-12 million illegal immigrants work authorization. Prior research indicates that at least three-fourths of illegal immigrants have no education beyond high school. Further, the bill creates a new guestworker program and expands family-based immigration for a number of years, both of which will increase the arrival of less-skill immigrants.

"Looking at the jobless numbers for the first three months of this year, it's hard to exaggerate the disconnect between Washington politicians and the realities of the country outside the Beltway," said Mark Krikorian, executive director of the Center for Immigration Studies. "With so many American citizens looking for work or dropping out of the labor market altogether, the Senate immigration bill seems to come from a different time and place altogether."

In the first quarter of 2013 the standard measure of unemployment (referred to as U-3) shows that unemployment was 18.1 percent for American citizens without a high school diploma (all citizens, including naturalized immigrants). It was 10.3 percent for U.S. citizens with only high school education.

The broader measure of unemployment (referred to as U-6) was 29.8 percent for citizens without a high school education and 18.4 percent for those with only a high school education. The U-6 measure includes those who have had to settle for part-time jobs and those who want to work and have looked in the last year but not in the past four weeks.

All of these figures represent a massive deterioration in recent years. In 2007, U-3 and U-6 unemployment for less-educated citizens was roughly 5 to 10 percentage points lower.

The total number of less-educated citizens (ages 18 to 65) not working in the first quarter of this year is 27.8 million, up from 24 million in the first quarter of 2007 and 22.2 million in the first quarter of 2000. These individuals are either unemployed or out of the labor market entirely.

In total (for all education levels), there are 55.4 million adult citizens ages 18 to 65 currently not working, up from 44.4 million in same quarter of 2007 and 38.1 million in 2000.

All of the above figures come from the public use files of the January, February, and March Current Population Survey for 2013, 2007, and 2000. The files can be found at the Census Bureau’s Dataferret web site:

Contact: Marguerite Telford
202-466-8185, [email protected]