All Tennessee's Employment Growth Since 2000 Has Gone to Immigrants;
Yet, Natives Accounted for 60% of Population Growth
WASHINGTON, Aug. 4, 2014 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- The Gang of
Eight immigration bill (S.744) passed by the U.S. Senate last June,
and voted for by both Tennessee senators - Lamar Alexander (R) and
Bob Corker (R), would have roughly doubled the number of new foreign
workers allowed into the country, as well as legalized illegal
immigrants. To put into context the possible effects of this
legislation on Tennessee, the Center for Immigration Studies has
analyzed recent government data on employment.
The analysis shows
that, since 2000, all of the net increase in the number of
working-age (16 to 65) people holding a job in Tennessee has gone to
immigrants (legal and illegal). This is the case even though the
native-born accounted for 60 percent of the growth in the state's
total working-age population.
Among the findings:
- The total number of working-age (16 to 65) immigrants (legal
and illegal) holding a job in Tennessee increased by 94,000 from
the first quarter of 2000 to the first quarter of 2014, while
the number of working-age native-born Americans with a job
declined 47,000 over the same time.
- The fact that all the long-term net gain in employment among
the working-age went to immigrants is striking because the
native-born accounted for 60 percent of the increase in the
total size of the state's working-age population.
- In the first quarter of this year, only 66 percent of
working-age natives in the state held a job. As recently as
2000, 72 percent of working-age natives in Tennessee were
- Because the native-born population in Tennessee grew
significantly, but the percentage working fell, there were
nearly 300,000 more working-age natives not working in the first
quarter of 2014 than in 2000.
- There exists a very large supply of potential workers in
Tennessee; in the first quarter of 2014, 1.3 million working-age
natives were not working (unemployed or entirely out of the
labor market) as were 90,000 working-age immigrants.
- While the share of working-age natives holding a job has
improved in Tennessee somewhat since the jobs recovery began in
2010, the share working showed no improvement in the last year.
- Relative to other states, Tennessee ranked 30th
in the nation in terms of the share of working-age natives
holding a job in the first quarter of 2014.
- In terms of the labor-force participation rate (share
working or looking for work) among working-age natives, the
state ranked 35th in the nation.
- Two key conclusion from the state's employment situation:
- First, the long-term decline in the employment of
natives in Tennessee and the enormous number of working-age
natives not working clearly indicates that there is no
general labor shortage in the state. Thus it is very
difficult to justify the large increases in foreign workers
(skilled and unskilled) allowed into the country by a bill
like S.744, which many of Tennessee's politicians support.
- Second, Tennessee's working-age immigrant population
grew 176 percent from 2000 to 2014, one of the highest rates
of any state in the nation. Yet, the number of natives
working in 2014 was actually lower than in 2000. This
undermines the argument that immigration on balance
increases job opportunities for natives.
"It's remarkable that any political leader in Tennessee would
support legislation that would increase the number of foreign
workers allowed into the country, given the relatively weak job
growth in the state and the large share of working-age people not
working," observed Steven Camarota, the Center's Director of
The Center for Immigration Studies is an independent,
non-partisan, non-profit research organization founded in 1985. It
is the nation's only think tank devoted exclusively to research and
policy analysis of the economic, social, demographic, fiscal, and
other impacts of immigration on the United States.