Foreign-born Workers Outpace Native-borns in Jobs Recovery

The unemployment rate for foreign-born workers dipped after the Great Recession -- but rose slightly for their native-born counterparts, according to a report by the Pew Hispanic Center.

Immigrants gained 656,000 jobs since June 2009 and saw their unemployment rate dipped 0.6 percentage points. Native-born workers lost 1.2 million jobs, boosting the employment rate to 9.7 percent.

"The reasons that only foreign-born workers have gained jobs in the recovery are not entirely clear," the report said. "One fact might be greater flexibility on the part of immigrants."

The overall picture was less optimistic for immigrants, however. The employment gain paled in comparison to the 1.1 million jobs in the prior year, according to the report.

Still, more immigrants, who make up 15.7 percent of the workforce, joined the labor market during the recovery period. The increase of foreign-born workers rose from 68 percent in the second quarter of 2009 to 68.2 percent in the following year.

By contrast, more native-born workers left the labor force, the report found. Labor participation for that group fell to 64.5 percent from 65.3 percent.

For Hispanics, both American and foreign-born, the unemployment rate fell 0.9 percentage points to 10.1 percent, according to the report. There were nearly 400,000 more jobs held by that group from the second quarter of 2009 to the same period in 2010.

That slight recovery came after a particularly tough year for Latinos. The unemployment rate in 2009 hit 12.9 percent and 11 percent for native-born and immigrant Latinos, respectively.

The disappearance of jobs in construction was a crushing blow for many immigrant Latinos during the Great Recession. The industry lost 335,000 jobs from the second quarter of 2008 to the same period the following year.

Last year, the sector had a resurgence, as nearly 100,000 jobs returned, the report found.