Majority of Latinos In The Workforce Are U.S. Born

Image: File photo of a worker on the roof of a building under construction in Los Angeles
File photo of a worker on the roof of a building under construction in Los Angeles. MARIO ANZUONI / Reuters

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Immigrants do not make up the majority of Latinos in the U.S. workforce, a first in almost twenty years. A steep dip in construction jobs after the housing crisis and a drop in immigration among Hispanics makes it likely this will continue, according to a Pew Research Center report released Thursday.

Slightly less than half (49.7 percent) of the 22 million Latinos employed in 2013 were immigrants, compared to 56.1 percent in 2007. And of the 2.8 million jobs gained by Hispanics since 2009 - largely due to the growth of the Latino working-age population - less than half a million have gone to immigrants.

Latino immigrants had fared very well in construction during the housing boom; gaining 1.6 million jobs between 2004 and 2007. After the housing crisis over half a million Latino immigrants - the majority of them foreign-born - lost their jobs. Many of them are still out of work. Only about 15 percent of construction workers are foreign-born Latinos; it was 19 percent in 2007.

A Nov 2010 photo of a sign turning away potential job-seekers outside a construction site in New Orleans. Latinos, especially foreign-born, lost over half a million construction jobs due to the housing crisis and the recession, and employment in that sector has not bounced back to pre-recession levels.Patrick Semansky / AP

The recession hit Hispanics hard, and unemployment is still higher for them than in the general population; it was at 10.3 percent by the end of 2013. Four industries - construction; eating, drinking and lodging; wholesale and retail trade; and professional and other business services - employ about half of Hispanic workers.

Latinos have seen a modest gain in earnings, from $556 at the end of 2007 to $570 at the end of 2013. Researchers say this is most probably a result of having fewer immigrants in the workforce compared to U.S.-born Hispanics, since immigrants are usually paid less.