The Adverse Effect of the COVID-19 Labor Market Shock on Immigrant Employment

43 Pages Posted: 23 May 2020

See all articles by George J. Borjas

George J. Borjas

Harvard University - Harvard Kennedy School (HKS); National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER)

Hugh Cassidy

Kansas State University

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Abstract

Employment rates in the United States fell dramatically between February 2020 and April 2020 as the initial repercussions of the COVID-19 pandemic reverberated through the labor market. This paper uses data from the CPS Basic Monthly Files to document that the employment decline was particularly severe for immigrants. Historically, immigrant men were more likely to be employed than native men. The COVID-related labor market disruptions eliminated the immigrant employment advantage.By April 2020, immigrant men had lower employment rates than native men. The reversal occurred both because the rate of job loss for at-work immigrant men rose relative to that of natives, and because the rate at which out-of-work immigrants could find jobs fell relative to the native job-finding rate. A small part of the relative increase in the immigrant rate of job loss arises because immigrants were less likely to work in jobs that could be performed remotely and suffered disparate employment consequences as the lockdown permitted workers with more "remotable" skills to continue their work from home.

Keywords: immigration, labor supply, COVID-19

JEL Classification: J21, J61

Suggested Citation

Borjas, George J. and Cassidy, Hugh, The Adverse Effect of the COVID-19 Labor Market Shock on Immigrant Employment. IZA Discussion Paper No. 13277, Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=3608526

George J. Borjas (Contact Author)

Harvard University - Harvard Kennedy School (HKS) ( email )

79 John F. Kennedy Street
Cambridge, MA 02138
United States
617-495-1393 (Phone)
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National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER)

1050 Massachusetts Avenue
Cambridge, MA 02138
United States

Hugh Cassidy

Kansas State University ( email )

Manhattan, KS 66506-4001
United States

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