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Monday, November 14, 2005

Japan Today - News - One in 7 U.S. workers born abroad - Japan's Leading International News Network

Japan Today - News - One in 7 U.S. workers born abroad - Japan's Leading International News NetworkOne in 7 U.S. workers born abroad

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Monday, November 14, 2005 at 07:39 JST
WASHINGTON — One in seven members of the U.S. workforce was born overseas, largely Latinos employed in low-income jobs, a new congressional study said.

That proportion is up from one in 10 a decade ago, and is set to rise further as U.S.-born baby boomers retire, the study by the cross-party Congressional Budget Office (CBO) said.

In 2004, more than 21 million workers were foreign-born, and half of them had arrived since 1990. Almost 40% of them 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.

In keeping with its non-partisan mandate, the CBO did not offer any policy recommendations in its study.

But the report coincides with mounting debate in the United States over illegal immigration and a push by President George W Bush to engage the fast-growing Hispanic community, which has traditionally voted Democrat.

Last month, Bush sought in a weekly radio address to woo back disenchanted conservative allies by arguing he has a problem with "too many illegal immigrants."

But he also revived his pitch for a guest worker program for Mexicans and other foreigners that was initially unveiled last year but shifted to the backburner under heavy criticism from conservative groups.

The plan would allow illegal aliens to get work visas for three years, but they would have to return to their home countries if they wanted a three-year extension.

The plan enjoys strong support from the U.S. business community, which is hungry for more construction workers and farm hands. But many in Bush's own Republican party have expressed strong opposition.

The CBO said it was hard to quantify the number of illegal aliens living in the United States.

But it cited one recent analysis based on data from the U.S. census and federal agencies that estimated that in early 2004, about 10 million foreigners were in the country illegally and about 6.3 million of them were working.

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. (Wire reports)

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