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Who Got the Jobs in Florida?

State ranked high in growth 2000-2014, but most employment gains went to immigrants

WASHINGTON, Aug. 13, 2014 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- A new report from the Center for Immigration Studies finds that while Florida has been among the states with the fastest job growth in recent years, most of that increase has gone to immigrants, both legal and illegal. This despite the fact that native-born Americans accounted for most of the growth in the state's working-age population.

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Immigrants accounted for 52 percent of the net increase in employment among the working-age (16 to 65) since 2000, while accounting for only 33 percent of population growth among the working-age. The labor force participation rate of Florida's working-age natives has fallen significantly since 2000 and remains low relative to other states. Despite these long-term trends, both of Florida's senators supported the Gang of Eight bill (S.744) last year, which would have roughly doubled future legal immigration and granted legal status to illegal immigrants.

The report is online at

  • Relative to other states, Florida ranked second in the nation in employment growth among 16- to 65-year-olds over the last 14 years, but most of these gains have gone to immigrant workers (legal and illegal).
  • From the first quarter of 2000 to the first quarter of 2014, 52 percent of the net increase in employment among Florida's working-age (16 to 65) population has gone to immigrants (legal and illegal), even though they accounted for only 33 percent of population growth.
  • Since the jobs recovery began in 2010, 64 percent of net employment growth among the state's working-age population has gone to immigrants. 
  • Even though the state ranked high in employment growth, Florida still ranked 34th in 2014 in terms of the labor force participation of its native-born population (16 to 65). 
  • Among young natives 16 to 29 years of age, Florida ranked 35th in labor force participation.
  • In 2000, two million working-age natives were not working (unemployed or out of the labor market entirely); by 2014 it was nearly 3.3 million – a 62 percent increase.
  • Perhaps most striking, through the first quarter of this year, the labor force participation rate of natives shows no improvement in Florida, even after the jobs recovery began in 2010.
  • If the employment rate of natives (16 to 65) in the first quarter of 2014 were what it was in 2000, 768,000 more natives would be working.
  • New immigrants took jobs across Florida's labor market, including lower-skilled jobs such as maintenance and construction, middle-skilled jobs such as sales and office support, and higher-skilled jobs such as management and health care professions.
  • While agriculture gets a lot of attention in the state, it employs a tiny share of immigrant workers – less than 1 percent.
  • The supply of potential workers in Florida is enormous: half a million native-born college graduates were not working in the first quarter of 2014, as were one million with some college and 1.4 million with no more than a high school education.
  • The labor force participation of native-born black, Hispanic, young, and less-educated workers in Florida show the biggest declines.

"As Florida prepares for a primary election later this month and the general election in November, it's important citizens understand that the data does not support claims by many corporations and politicians that workers are in short supply," said Steven A. Camarota, co-author of the report and the Center's Director of Research. "The available evidence indicates that there is an enormous supply of potential workers of every education level in the state. Florida's political leaders should at least consider the employment situation in their state before supporting calls for significantly increasing the number of foreign workers allowed into the country."

The Center for Immigration Studies is an independent, non-partisan, non-profit research organization founded in 1985. It is the nation's only think tank devoted exclusively to research and policy analysis of the economic, social, demographic, fiscal, and other impacts of immigration on the United States.

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Contact: Bryan Griffith
(202) 466-8185, [email protected]

SOURCE Center for Immigration Studies

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