Immigrants accounted for almost 60% of the growth in the US labor force last year, helping ease acute shortages in industries like health care and construction.
Roughly 1.8 million foreign-born workers joined the labor force in 2022, compared with 1.3 million native-born ones, according to Bureau of Labor Statistics data published Thursday.
Immigration to the US began to slow under President Donald Trump, as a slew of restrictions were imposed, and it came to a near-halt early in the pandemic amid border shutdowns and curbs on travel. The latest numbers show that the shortfall has been reversed. The nation’s nearly 31 million immigrant workers now make up 18.5% of the labor force, close to a record-high share and above pre-Covid levels.
Compared with before the pandemic, more foreign-born workers are filling positions in key industries that have been struggling with labor shortages. Almost 10% of immigrant workers had jobs in construction last year, up from 9.1% in 2019, according to the BLS. The share of foreign-born workers in health-care support occupations also increased.
All of this has helped drive the unemployment rate among immigrants down to 3.1% last month — below the overall national rate.
The BLS counts all workers born outside of the US to foreign parents and who were not citizens at birth as “foreign-born” regardless of immigration status or nationality.