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Immigrants’ employment outcomes over the business cycle


  • Orrenius, Pia M.
  • Zavodny, Madeline


Immigrants have figured prominently in U.S. economic growth for decades, but the recent recession hit them hard. Immigrants’ labor market outcomes began deteriorating even before the recession was officially under way, largely as a result of the housing bust. An analysis of employment and unemployment rates over the past fifteen years shows that immigrants’ labor market outcomes are more cyclical than those of natives. The greater cyclicality of immigrants’ employment and unemployment is concentrated among less-educated immigrants, but college-educated immigrants nonetheless have more-cyclically sensitive employment outcomes than college-educated natives.

Suggested Citation

  • Orrenius, Pia M. & Zavodny, Madeline, 2011. "Immigrants’ employment outcomes over the business cycle," Staff Papers, Federal Reserve Bank of Dallas, issue Sep.
  • Handle: RePEc:fip:feddst:y:2011:i:sep:n:15

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    References listed on IDEAS

    1. Dustmann, Christian & Glitz, Albrecht & Vogel, Thorsten, 2010. "Employment, wages, and the economic cycle: Differences between immigrants and natives," European Economic Review, Elsevier, vol. 54(1), pages 1-17, January.
    2. Bernt Bratsberg & Erling Barth & Oddbjørn Raaum, 2006. "Local Unemployment and the Relative Wages of Immigrants: Evidence from the Current Population Surveys," The Review of Economics and Statistics, MIT Press, vol. 88(2), pages 243-263, May.
    3. Paul J. Devereux, 2004. "Cyclical Quality Adjustment in the Labor Market," Southern Economic Journal, Southern Economic Association, vol. 70(3), pages 600-615, January.
    4. Erling Barth & Bernt Bratsberg & Oddbj¯rn Raaum, 2004. "Identifying Earnings Assimilation of Immigrants under Changing Macroeconomic Conditions," Scandinavian Journal of Economics, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 106(1), pages 1-22, March.
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    Cited by:

    1. Sparber, Chad & Fan, Jasmine Sijie, 2011. "Unemployment, Skills, and the Business Cycle Since 2000," Working Papers 2011-04, Department of Economics, Colgate University, revised 12 Sep 2012.
    2. Kris Inwood & Chris Minns & Fraser Summerfield, 2016. "Reverse assimilation? Immigrants in the Canadian labour market during the Great Depression," European Review of Economic History, Oxford University Press, vol. 20(3), pages 299-321.

    More about this item


    Business cycle; recession; employment; immigrants;

    JEL classification:

    • J21 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Demand and Supply of Labor - - - Labor Force and Employment, Size, and Structure
    • J61 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Mobility, Unemployment, Vacancies, and Immigrant Workers - - - Geographic Labor Mobility; Immigrant Workers
    • J64 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Mobility, Unemployment, Vacancies, and Immigrant Workers - - - Unemployment: Models, Duration, Incidence, and Job Search
    • E32 - Macroeconomics and Monetary Economics - - Prices, Business Fluctuations, and Cycles - - - Business Fluctuations; Cycles


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