| News Story
Last year, 2.5 million jobs were created in the US, and 40% went to the Latino population. Of that, 88% of the new Latino jobs were taken by recent immigrants to the US.
Latinos make up only 15% of the US labor force, but are increasingly becoming dominant in the low-wage sectors of the US economy. In San Ysidoro, California, about 50,000 Mexicans enter the US every day, some legally (as part of a work program) and some illegally. The result is typical: median Latino weekly earnings were $420 in 2002, $411 in 2003, and $400 in 2004. The one catch is that Latinos are no longer staying in California or Texas once they enter the US. Tennessee has seen a 116% increase in its Latino population since 2000, and Alaska has seen its Latino population increase 79% over that period.
Research isn't indicating, however, that immigrant labor is a substitute for US labor. It is, rather, a complement, as the percentage of US workers without a high school diploma has dropped to 9% from 52% 40 years ago. Consequently, US workers are looking for higher-skill, higher-wage jobs, leaving many opportunities for Mexican workers to thrive.
Not everyone is happy with this outcome, though. George Borjas, a Harvard economist, argues that continued reliance on cheap immigrant labor will contribute to lagging productivity increases. This is because it will continue to be cheaper to remain relatively labor intensive than to further mechanize the production process, making workers more productive.