scorecardThe US's newest immigrants are more likely than native-born Americans to have a college degree, per Goldman Sachs
  1. Home
  2. policy
  3. economy
  4. news
  5. The US's newest immigrants are more likely than native-born Americans to have a college degree, per Goldman Sachs

The US's newest immigrants are more likely than native-born Americans to have a college degree, per Goldman Sachs

Jacob Zinkula,Andy Kiersz   

The US's newest immigrants are more likely than native-born Americans to have a college degree, per Goldman Sachs
PolicyPolicy3 min read
About 12% of recent immigrants worked in the accommodation and food services industry, compared to 7% of US-born workers.     AP Photo/Alan Diaz
  • The number of foreign-born workers in the US has surged in recent years.
  • Supporters said they've provided the economy a boost — critics have pointed to the border crisis.

Nearly three million more Americans are working than they were in January 2020, but the number of US-born workers has barely budged.

That means immigrants, specifically foreign-born workers, are responsible for most of the US job growth of recent years. Foreign-born workers' share of the US workforce rose from 16.8% in January 2020 to 19.3% in March 2024, according to a Business Insider analysis of Bureau of Labor Statistics data.

Supporters of immigration say these newcomers have provided the US economy a huge boost and not taken Americans' jobs a common argument made by those against immigration. With many boomers reaching retirement age and young people having fewer children than they used to, immigration might be the best way for US labor force levels to sustain and grow.

However, some people have argued that immigrants are, in fact, taking Americans' jobs, in addition to reducing wages and contributing to high housing prices. Many also have broader concerns about how some immigrants are coming to the US. Last December, illegal border crossings from Mexico resulted in a record number of arrests, and cities like New York and Chicago are struggling to accommodate the influx of migrants to their cities.

Who are these immigrant workers who have come to the US in recent years? They're likely to be young, male, working in one of three industries, making less than $40,000 a year, and living in one of four states, according to a Goldman Sachs report published in April and based on an analysis of government data.

The typical recent immigrant is more likely than the US-born population to have a college degree

The Goldman Sachs report said much of the recent uptick in immigration to the US has been tied to a rise in "unauthorized immigration" — foreign-born people coming into the US who aren't legal US residents.

The report said many of these people came from South America, Central America, and Mexico — and that the number of immigrants from these regions likely tripled in 2023 compared to its pre-pandemic average.

In recent years, over half of immigrants settled in one of four states: Florida, California, Texas, and New York. The next most popular states were New Jersey, Illinois, Massachusetts, and Georgia. Accommodative policies toward immigrants and proximity to the Southern border have both impacted their destinations.

Among immigrants aged 16 and older who came to the US within the last three years, nearly 90% of them were between the ages of 16 and 54, compared to 62% of the US-born population aged 16 and older.

Roughly 64% of these recent immigrants were working or looking for work, compared to 62% of US-born workers. Recent immigrants had an unemployment rate of 6.3%, compared to 3.8% for US-born workers.

Among recent immigrants aged 16 and older, about 55% were male, compared to 46% of US-born individuals in the same age group.

Recent immigrants were much less likely than the US-born population to have graduated from high school. Nearly a quarter of recent immigrants aged 16 or older had less than a high school education, compared to 10% of the US-born population.

However, recent immigrants were more likely than US-born Americans to have a college degree. Over 39% of recent immigrants aged 16 or older had a bachelor's or advanced degree, compared to 34% of the US-born population. The biggest disparity was in the share of workers with only "some college" education: about 13% of recent immigrants and 28% of the US-born population.

The typical recent immigrant is likely to make less than $40,000 a year

The most common industries for recent immigrant workers were construction, professional and business, and accommodation and food services.

Over 16% of recent immigrants worked in the construction industry, compared to 6.4% of US-born workers. Among the most common jobs in this industry are construction laborers, carpenters, and electricians, per the Bureau of Labor Statistics.

Roughly 17% of immigrants worked in the professional and business industry, compared to 12% of US-born workers. Among the most common jobs in this industry are janitors, security guards, and landscaping and groundskeeping workers.

About 12% of recent immigrants worked in the accommodation and food services industry, compared to 7% of US-born workers. Among the most common jobs in this industry are "food preparation and serving workers," waiters and waitresses, cooks, and hotel desk clerks.

Per Goldman Sachs, the typical recent immigrant worker made about $39,000 a year in 2023, compared to $54,000 for the typical US-born worker.

Have you recently moved to the US and found work? If so, reach out to this reporter at jzinkula@businessinsider.com.




Advertisement