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Size of U.S. unauthorized immigrant workforce stable

Staff Writer |
There were 8 million unauthorized immigrants in the U.S. working or looking for work in 2014, making up 5% of the civilian labor force, according to new Pew Research Center estimates using government data.

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The number was unchanged and the share was down slightly since 2009, the year the Great Recession officially ended.

The recent stability in the trend for unauthorized immigrants in the U.S. workforce echoes that for the unauthorized immigrant population overall. Both groups had grown rapidly during the 1990s and early 2000s.

Compared with their sizes at the start of the recession in 2007, the unauthorized immigrant workforce was slightly smaller in 2014 and the overall unauthorized immigrant population was markedly smaller.

From 2009 to 2014, when the number of unauthorized immigrant workers was stable, eight U.S. states – Alabama, California, Georgia, Illinois, Kansas, Nevada, South Carolina and Rhode Island – had statistically significant declines in the number of unauthorized immigrants in their workforces.

Seven U.S. states – Louisiana, Minnesota, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, Utah, Virginia and Washington – had increases in the number of unauthorized immigrants in their workforces.

Looking at 2014 estimates, states with the largest number of total unauthorized immigrants in their workforces also were among those states with the largest overall populations of unauthorized immigrants.

They included California, with 1.7 million unauthorized immigrant workers; Texas, with 1.1 million; and New York, with 600,000.

States where unauthorized immigrants accounted for the largest share of the workforce included Nevada (10.4%); California (9.0%) and Texas (8.5%).

The nation’s 11.1 million unauthorized immigrants made up 26% of the nation’s 43.6 million foreign-born residents in 2014.


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