One In Seven U.S. Workers Born Abroad

One in seven members of the U.S. workforce was born overseas a new congressional study said Nov. 11. That proportion is up from one in 10 a decade ago, and is set to rise further as U.S.-born baby boomers retire, according to a study by the Congressional Budget Office (CBO).

In 2004, more than 21 million workers were foreign-born, and half had arrived since 1990. Almost 40% were from Mexico and Central America, while 25% were from Asia.

Three-quarters of the Latinos were in jobs that have "minimal educational requirements" such as builders and dishwashers, and typically earned much less than native-born workers, the study said. But immigrants from other parts of the world, by and large, are better educated than the average American with a higher percentage having undertaken graduate studies.

"With the projected slowdown in the growth of the native workforce as the baby-boom generation reaches retirement age, immigrants are likely to hold an even greater share of jobs in the future," the report said. "Barring substantial shifts in demographic trends, immigrants and their descendants are expected to provide the majority of the nation's population growth during the next half century," it added.

According to the last census in 2004, 34 million of the U.S. population of 288 million people were born abroad. At 12%, that was the highest proportion of foreign-born Americans recorded in 70 years.

Copyright Agence France-Presse, 2005

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