Despite being hit particularly hard by the recession, immigrants are experiencing faster job growth than native-born Americans in Alabama, Georgia and Tennessee, according to reports.
"It seems that the rate of unemployment for immigrants is slightly lower than for the native group," said Jeanne Batalova, a policy analyst with the Migration Policy Institute, which analyzed employment data from 2008 to 2010, according to The Times Free Press.
Georgia and Alabama, two of the three states studied by the Migration Policy Institute -- the third state being Tennessee --, are states where immigrants showed faster job growth, and are among the states that have since passed some of the toughest immigration laws in the country.
Both states now require employers use a federal database to verify an applicant's immigration status before hiring, and restrict various state services and benefits to those who cannot confirm their legal resident status.
What may at first appear to be a conundrum -- why would immigrants gain jobs faster in states where undocumented immigrants are unwelcome -- could in fact be a sign of the opposite effect. In reaction to the high growth rate of foreign-born persons residing and working in these states, local authorities enacted laws to try and reverse the trend.
Or, it could be a sign that anti-immigration advocates' greatest fear -- that immigrants take Americans' jobs -- is an accurate concern
According to the Pew Center, the answer, however, is simple: demographics.
The Pew Center reports that the differences in jobs growth across groups largely reflect the differences in population growth.
With faster growth rates of working-age persons who were particularly ready to take low-wage jobs, Latino immigrants were uniquely positioned to capture more employment opportunities in these states.
Even after the introduction of tough laws primarily targeting immigrants from Mexico and Central America, the Latino population in these states continued to increase, growing 18 percent in Tennessee and 30 percent in Alabama from 2008 to 2010. Meanwhile, the U.S.-born population only increased 1.7 percent in Tennessee and 2.3 percent in Alabama.
Hispanics, as well as Asians, whose working-age population increased by 10.9% between 2007 and 2011, are experiencing a faster rate of jobs growth than other groups according to the Pew Hispanic Center . Their employment levels are higher now than before the start of the recession in December 2007.
In comparison, the slower rate of jobs growth for whites and blacks reflects the relatively slow growth in their populations. The white working-age population grew only 1.3%, and the black working-age population increased by 5% from 2007 to 2011, whereas during this same period, the Hispanic working-age (16 and older) population in the country increased by 12.8%.
In addition, there's also the argument that "[Latinos] might be more willing to take low-wage, temporary jobs. And they tend to be more mobile, willing to move from one county to another to get a job," The Los Angeles Times reported.
Immigrants in Alabama, Georgia and Tenesse usually work low-skilled jobs, often in industries such construction, agriculture and manufacturing.
"They often fill a niche that's vacant," said Batalova as reported by the Times Free Press. "That's what happened in a number industries like meat packing and certain agricultural jobs."
Time will tell if the anti-immigration laws passed last year in Alabama and Georgia will succeed in generating job growth for U.S. born workers, at the expense of the foreign-born workers. Initial reports suggest that the efforts may have been too successful, as employers have indicated that the laws have driven immigrant labor out of their communities, but in doing so, have placed economic growth at risk when the states can least afford it.
<blockquote><strong>43% </strong>is the percentage increase in the Hispanic population between April 1, 2000, and April 1, 2010, making Hispanics the fastest-growing minority group. Source for all statistics: <a href="http://www.census.gov/prod/cen2010/briefs/c2010br-04.pdf" target="_hplink">United States Census</a> </blockquote>
<blockquote><strong> 50.5 million</strong> is the size of the Hispanic population of the United States as of April 1, 2010, making people of Hispanic origin the nation's largest ethnic or race minority. Hispanics constituted 16.3 percent of the nation's total population. In addition, there are 3.7 million residents of Puerto Rico, a U.S. territory. </blockquote>
<blockquote><strong>132.8 million</strong> is the projected size of the Hispanic population of the United States on July 1, 2050. According to this projection, Hispanics will constitute 30 percent of the nation's population by that date. </blockquote>
<blockquote><strong>2nd</strong> is the ranking of the size of the U.S. Hispanic population worldwide, as of 2010. Only Mexico (112 million) had a larger Hispanic population than the United States (50.5 million). </blockquote>
<blockquote><strong>14 million </strong>is the size of the population of the Hispanic-origin population that lived in California in 2010, up from 11 million in 2000. </blockquote>
<blockquote><strong>96%</strong> is the percentage of the population of Webb County, Texas, that was Hispanic as of 2010. This is the highest proportion of any county in the country.</blockquote>
<blockquote> <strong>82</strong> is the number of the nation's 3,143 counties that were majority-Hispanic.</blockquote>
<blockquote>10.4 million is the number of Hispanic family households in the United States in 2010.</blockquote>
<blockquote><strong>35 million</strong> is the number of U.S. residents 5 and older who spoke Spanish at home in 2009. Those who <em>hablan español</em> constituted 12 percent of U.S. residents. More than half of these Spanish speakers spoke English "very well." </blockquote>
<blockquote><strong>26.6%</strong> is the poverty rate among Hispanics in 2010, up from 25.3 percent in 2009, and 23.2 percent in 2008.</blockquote>
<blockquote> <strong>14%</strong> the percentage of the Hispanic population 25 and older with a bachelor's degree or higher in 2010.</blockquote>
<blockquote><strong>47%</strong> is the percent of the foreign-born population that was Hispanic in 2009.</blockquote>
<blockquote><strong> 9.7 million </strong>is the number of Hispanic citizens who reported voting in the 2008 presidential election, about 2 million more than voted in 2004. The percentage of Hispanic citizens voting went from 47 percent in 2004 to 50 percent in 2008. </blockquote>
<blockquote><strong>1.1 million</strong> is the number of Hispanics or Latinos 18 and older who are veterans of the U.S. armed forces.</blockquote>