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The Economic Integration of Immigrants in the United States: Long- and Short-Term Perspectives

Reports
July 2011

The Economic Integration of Immigrants in the United States: Long- and Short-Term Perspectives

The United States has historically offered unparalleled economic opportunity to successive generations of immigrants and their children, poised to play an increasing role in the U.S. economy as more baby boomers retire in the coming decades. In the absence of explicit policies aimed at integrating newcomers to the country, the workplace has arguably been one of the country’s most powerful immigrant-integrating institutions.

The 2007-09 global economic crisis accentuated immigrants’ vulnerability in the labor market. In contrast to other major immigrant-receiving countries, immigrants in the United States tend to be strongly attached to the labor force and typically experience low unemployment, but they are also more likely to work in low-wage and low-status occupations.

It is unclear if past trends in immigrants’ economic integration will continue. The lasting impact of job loss and poverty in the context of a weak, protracted recovery could realign the economic and social forces that have historically propelled immigrants’ upward socioeconomic mobility. Slower growth over the next decade will translate into fewer opportunities for all workers and immigrants may prove the most vulnerable.

 

 

Table of Contents 

I. Introduction

II. Characteristics of Immigrants in the U.S. Labor Force

III. Employment and Unemployment

IV. The Long-Term Outlook