After the Great Recession: Foreign Born Gain Jobs; Native Born Lose Jobs
IV. Earnings of Native-born and Foreign-born Workers
The weekly earnings of workers during the recession and the initial stage of the recovery were generally stagnant.19 However, foreign-born workers experienced a sharp decline in earnings during the recovery even as they managed to boost their employment. Hispanics also did not fare well—their earnings fell for two years in a row—and, among Hispanics, immigrants sustained the biggest cut in wages.
The median weekly earnings of all workers, full time and part time, were $624 in the second quarter of 2008 (earnings expressed in second-quarter 2010 dollars).20 By the end of the recession, in the second quarter of 2009, weekly earnings stood at $623. Earnings nudged upward slightly during the recovery, to $630 in the second quarter of 2010.
In the midst of overall wage stagnation, the earnings of foreign-born workers fell sharply during the recovery. Wages for immigrants did not change much in the recession, moving from $544 in 2008 to $550 in 2009. However, in the recovery from 2009 to 2010, median earnings of foreign-born workers dropped to $525, a loss of 4.5%. The earnings of native-born workers have remained flat during the recession and recovery, starting at $651 in the second quarter of 2008 and ending at $653 in the second quarter of 2010.
Hispanics are the only group of workers whose median earnings decreased during both the recession and the recovery. Starting at $504 in the second quarter of 2008, the median weekly earnings of Latinos fell to $489 in the second quarter of 2009 and then to $480 in the second quarter of 2010.
The downward momentum in earnings for Latinos was led by immigrants. For immigrant Latinos, median weekly earnings dropped from $454 in 2008 to $448 in 2009, and then to $422 in 2010. Over the two-year period, the earnings of immigrant Latinos decreased by 7.0%.
- Data on weekly earnings are available only for employed persons. Household income is better able to capture the effects of unemployment on the economic well-being of households. The latest estimate from the Census Bureau shows that median household income was unchanged from 2008 to 2009. The largest decline in income occurred for black households, a group with the highest rate of unemployment, and foreign-born non-citizen households, the group that includes unauthorized immigrants (DeNavas-Walt, Proctor and Smith, 2010). ↩
- The median wage divides workers into two equal groups, with half earning more than the median wage and the other half earning less than the median. ↩