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'Unauthorized' Aliens With Jobs Outnumber Non-College-Grad Adults Seeking One

Terence P. Jeffrey
By Terence P. Jeffrey | December 5, 2014 | 2:39 PM EST

(AP Photo/M. Spencer Green)

Aliens illegally holding jobs in the United States outnumber all unemployed people who are not in management, professional or related occupations as well as all unemployed who are 25 and older and who do not have a college degree, according to an estimate of "unauthorized workers" published by the Chief Actuary of the Social Security Administration and employment data published by the Bureau of Labor Statistics.

The BLS only counts as "unemployed" people who have actively looked for a job in the past four weeks.

“We estimate that the number of unauthorized workers grew from 4.8 million in 2000 to 8.0 million in 2007, the peak of the last business cycle,” the Office of the Chief Actuary of Social Security said in an analysis published in April 2013.

“The economy then fell into a recession and the estimated number of unauthorized workers declined to 7.0 million in 2010,” said the Chief Actuary. “We project that the economy will recover and that the number of unauthorized workers will rise to 9.6 million in 2020.”

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“Unauthorized workers” are aliens living in the United States who do not have a legal right to work here.

The chief actuary’s note distinguishes between two broad categories of “immigrants.” These are “legal immigrants” and “other immigrants.” The former are foreign-born individuals who have been naturalized as U.S. citizens or who have been granted legal permanent resident (LPR) status.

“Other immigrants,” as defined by the chief actuary, are “U.S. residents born outside the U.S. who have not attained LPR status or citizenship (this group includes those with temporary legal visas).”

Among “other immigrants” are “unauthorized immigrants” who are “residing in the U.S. without current papers documenting their legal status (i.e., either they entered the U.S. without legal documentation or they overstayed temporary visas)” and “unauthorized workers” who are “other immigrants working in the U.S. without current visas granting them authorization to work.”

In November, according to BLS data released today, there were 955,000 unemployed people age 25 or older who lacked a high school diploma, 1,932,000 unemployed 25 or older who had a high school diploma but had not attended college, and 1,742,000 unemployed 25 or older who had attended some college or earned an associates degree but had not earned a bachelor’s degree.

That equaled 4,629,000 adults 25 or older who lacked a college degree and were unemployed.

Of the total of 8,630,000 people unemployed in the United States in November, according to BLS, 1,656,000 were people in “management, professional and related occupations.”

Subtracting these 1,656,000 unemployed who were in “management, professional and related occupations” from the overall unemployed of 8,630,000, leaves 6,974,000 unemployed people who were not in management, professional or related occupations.

These 6,974,000 unemployed who were not in management, professional, or related occupations were fewer than the 7,000,000 “unauthorized” alien workers who, according to the Chief Actuary of Social Security, had jobs in the United States after the end of the last recession.

They are also fewer than the 9.6 million “unauthorized” alien workers the chief actuary estimates will hold jobs in the United States as of 2020.

In compiling its unemployment statistics, the BLS uses the occupational classifications used by the Census Bureau in the 2010 Census. “For the unemployed,” says BLS, “the occupation and industry are based on the last job held.”

“Among the major occupational groups, persons employed full time in management, professional, and related occupations had the highest median weekly earnings--$1,326 for men and $980 for women,” said BLS in its "usual weekly earnings" report for the third quarter of 2014.

A full listing of the jobs the Census Bureau classifies as “management, professional and related” can be found here.

The 2014 report of the Board of Trustees of Social Security estimated that “net other immigration” was negative in 2008, but has been positive since then.

“For 2008, estimated net other immigration is negative, at -760,000, but returns to a positive level of 105,000 for 2009 and 50,000 for 2010,” said the report. “The estimated net other immigration for 2011, 2012, and 2013 is 80,000, 390,000, and 490,000, respectively. Under the intermediate assumptions, projected net other immigration is about 555,000 persons for 2014, and about 690,000 persons for 2018.”


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