A small but significant decline has occurred during the current recession in the share of Latino immigrants active in the U.S. labor force, according to a Pew Hispanic Center analysis of Census Bureau data. In a year when jobs have become scarce for everyone, the proportion of working-age Latino immigrants participating in the labor force has fallen, at least through the third quarter of 2008, while the proportion of all non-Hispanics as well as of native-born Hispanics has held steady.
Jobs attract many Hispanic immigrants to the United States, and their labor force participation rate—the proportion of the working-age population that is either working or actively seeking work—is typically higher than the rate in the native-born population. That remains the case now.
However, among Latino immigrants, 71.3% were in the labor force at the close of the third quarter of 2008, compared with 72.4% a year earlier. This 1.1 percentage point decrease follows on the heels of a steady increase in the labor force participation rate of foreign-born Latinos since 2003 when the economy started its recovery from the 2001 recession.1 The drop in labor market activity was about twice as high among immigrants from Mexico and among immigrants who arrived in the U.S. since 2000. Among all non-Hispanics, the labor force participation rate was essentially unchanged during this period—it was 66.2% at the end of the third quarter of 2008, up marginally from 66.0% a year earlier. Among native-born Hispanics, the rate was 66.4%, up from 66.0% a year earlier.
Read the full report Latino Workers in the Ongoing Recession: 2007 to 2008 on the Pew Hispancic Center Web site.