(September 2007) Although immigrants are more likely to be low-wage workers than high-wage workers, how foreign-born workers fare depends on their country of origin and year of entry.
Many foreign workers made significant progress between 1995 and 2005, according to a report from the Pew Hispanic Center. The share of foreign-born Hispanics who were at the bottom fifth when ranked by hourly wage fell from 42 percent to 36 percent between 1995 and 2005. The proportion of newly arrived Hispanic immigrants who were low-wage workers dropped from 64 percent to 50 percent, because the later new arrivals were more likely to be employed in construction, not agriculture. Workers born in Mexico make up one-third of all foreign-born workers and influence the overall wage profile. Between 1995 and 2005, the share of Mexican-born workers in the lowest wage class fell from 48 percent to 40 percent.
Foreign-born Asians increased their presence in the high-wage work force. The top fifth of workers ranked by hourly wage in 2005 contained 30 percent of foreign-born Asians, up from 25 percent in 1995.
The report also examines trends in foreign-born employment, wage levels of different subgroups of foreign workers, and native-born workers by wage group.
The report, 1995-2005: Foreign-Born Latinos Make Progress on Wages, can be found at: http://pewhispanic.org/reports/report.php?ReportID=78
—Sandra Yin, PRB Associate Editor