National Institute on Aging

Comparing the Unemployment Rates of Native-Born and Foreign-Born Blacks by Educational Level

New data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics shows differences in employment status between native-born and foreign-born Blacks in the United States. And the data is broken down by education level.

In 2017, 15.6 percent of native-born Blacks without a high school diploma were unemployed. For foreign-born Blacks without a high school diploma, only 6.5 percent were unemployed. The Labor Department defines unemployment as those actively seeking employment but unable to find it. Those who have dropped out of the labor force altogether for whatever reason are not included in the unemployment rate.

For high school graduates with no college experience, the unemployment rate for native-born Blacks was 8.2 percent in 2017. For foreign-born Blacks with a high school diploma but no college experience, the unemployment rate was 5.5 percent.

Native-born Blacks with at least a bachelor’s degree had an unemployment rate of 3.1 percent in 2017. This was lower than the rate for foreign-born Blacks with a college degree, which stood at 5 percent.

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  1. Marie Nadine Pierre says:

    Jah and Jahnes love. As a 2nd Generation (U.S. born) black woman of Ayiti descent, I find the findings of this report very interesting. I grew up in a working-class household. My father was a self-employed Taxi driver and my Step Mother and other women in my family worked as cleaning ladies, caretakers of elderly and as factory workers. I always felt weird about the fact that the African American working class folks that I knew were more likely to be involved with the Social Services, from which I felt barred. I was led to believe that Welfare was a gift that the State gave to Natives and that the folks from other places should not seek to obtain such benefits. But, when Native born blacks obtain College and perhaps Graduate Degrees, they are more likely to be employed. I feel that this reflects the fact that Natives are more easily qualified for Social Service benefits and the fact that the jobs that are available at the lower wages do not attract Native Workers. And in some cases, Native workers are not encouraged to do such jobs anymore. And we must acknowledge that there is some level of prejudice against Foreign-born Blacks with College or Graduate degrees which could explain the difference in the employment rate. It might have to do with the fact that there is some prejudice against Foreign Education and Accents. I have heard some friends from the Caribbean discuss how their accents were held against them at jobs and during Job Search.

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