Foreign-born US workers reach pre-pandemic level: Census

The number of foreign-born workers in the United States neared pre-pandemic levels last year, reaching 17.4 percent, according to government data released Wednesday.

The foreign-born labor force increased by 671,000 compared to 2020, rising to 27.9 million, the Labor Department said.

However, it remains below the pre-pandemic level of 28.4 million.

The unemployment rate for that group fell to 5.6 percent in 2021 from 9.2 percent the prior year.

The size of the native-born labor force was essentially unchanged last year, though the jobless rate also fell sharply, dropping to 5.3 percent from 7.8 percent, the report said.

The shortage of workers has become an increasing problem in the US economy, fueling inflation as companies struggle to fill open positions and bid up wages.

Federal Reserve Chair Jerome Powell on Tuesday repeated the concern, noting that “if you have a slower growing labor market, you’re going to have a smaller economy.”

US unemployment in April was 3.6 percent, only a hair above the pre-pandemic level, but labor force participation has not fully recovered.

Hispanics continued to account for nearly half of the foreign-born labor force in 2021, and Asians accounted for one quarter.


© Agence France-Presse