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Nearly all new jobs in Tennessee have gone to immigrants

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Tennessee's job growth since 2000, CNBC.com reported yesterday, has almost all gone to immigrants, both legal and illegal. CNBC cited a report from the Center for Immigration Studies that showed the net increase in working-age (16 to 65) citizens in Tennessee holding a job was exceeded by the number of immigrants getting such jobs. Essentially, all of the new jobs created have gone to immigrants while 60 percent of the population growth in Tennessee since 2000 has come from native-born citizens.

The report states the number of working-age citizens in Tennessee grew by 94,000 from 2000 to 2014, and the number of native-born citizens employed fell by 47,000 during the same years. 66 percent of working-age natives in Tennessee held jobs the first quarter of this year, compared to 72 percent of working-age natives who held jobs in the first quarter of 1972. The number of working-age natives grew by almost 300,000 during that period of time, reaching a total of 1.3 million working-age natives without jobs in Tennessee by the first quarter of this year.

The report came to two conclusions about the employment situation in Tennessee, the first of which was, “...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.”

Tennessee saw a significant increase in the growth of native-born citizens that was not matched with a corresponding growth of native-born citizens being employed. The report suggests this undermines that argument that immigrants are needed to have available labor supply to perform needed jobs with the available native-born labor supply as documented.

The report also concludes, “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.”

The numbers raise questions about public policy that allows more immigrants to come into the country, and the state of Tennessee, given the high level of unemployment among the native-born population in the state. The director of the center raised that very issue, stating, “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.”

The Center's web site describes itself as, “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.”

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