The number of workers born outside the U.S. made up 18.1% of the U.S. labor force last year, the highest number recorded in almost 30 years, as reported in a news release from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics.

This percentage is “up from 17.4% the prior year and the highest level in data back to 1996,” with a total of 29.8 million immigrants who were employed or actively looking for jobs in the labor force last year, The Wall Street Journal reported.

The news release listed highlights from the 2022 data, which included:

  • The unemployment rate for foreign-born workers declined 2.2% from the previous year.
  • The jobless rate for native-born workers decreased 1.6%.
  • Foreign-born men participate in the labor force at a rate higher than native-born men, while native-born women participate at a higher rate than foreign-born women.
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Abraham Mosisa, a senior economist at the Bureau of Labor Statistics, told Axios, “The U.S. labor force participation rate of native-born men has been consistently decreasing.”

He said the pandemic caused a decrease in the steady trend of foreign-born people joining the workforce, which made the increase “look a bit more striking than it is.”

The Wall Street Journal said the decrease in U.S. population growth and increase of people aging out of the workforce during the pandemic created labor shortages and increased job opportunities.

The number of native-born workers in the labor force rose about 1% in 2022, going from 133.2 million to 134.5 million, Axios reported.

Age 16 and up

The New York Post reported that in 2022, foreign- and native-born workers 16 and older numbered 164 million.

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“The report concluded that immigrants over age 16 are more likely to participate in the labor force than their U.S.-born counterparts,” the article said, with 65.9% of foreign-born workers more likely to be employed or looking for jobs in the American labor market than native-born workers.

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Axios quoted the Migration Policy Institute, which said a key factor behind the record number is that 77% of the immigration population is of working age, 18-64.

“Native-born workers, however, held more jobs in management, professional and related occupations,” the Post said.

Per the report, “Hispanics continued to account for nearly one-half of the foreign-born labor force in 2022 and Asians accounted for one-quarter.”

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