- The Washington Times - Thursday, June 17, 2004

A new report shows that noncitizens — who cannot vote in the upcoming election — are taking almost 30 percent of the new jobs created in the United States, a trend that threatens to blunt President Bush’s efforts to trumpet economic growth during his push for reelection.

When government statistics showed a first quarter increase of 1.3 million jobs , the Bush administration heralded it as a sign of economic recovery. With about 30 percent of those jobs going to non-voters, however, the possible impact of that growth is not as great.

The report was issued Wednesday by the Pew Hispanic Center, a nonpartisan research organization based in Washington.

“I think that it maybe helps explain why the recent polls don’t show that the president is getting as much of a bounce from the turnaround in the labor market as so many people expected,” said Roberto Sero, director of the Pew Hispanic Center.

The main problem that this potentially creates for the Bush campaign is found in the 18 “battleground states,” including Florida, New Hampshire, Maine, Michigan and West Virginia. These states, considered crucial to the November election by both parties, hold most of the nation’s recent job gains: a whopping 75 percent of the increase between 2003 and 2004, according to the study.

Data gathered for the report shows that in these 18 states, noncitizens took one out of every five new jobs. Although this was less than the percentage nationwide, the importance of these states to the presidential election heightens the impact of these findings.

“The notion is that more people getting jobs will produce a greater sense of economic well-being and that will favor the president. You have to discount that by the fact that a large number of jobs are going to people who aren’t voting and who aren’t even eligible to vote,” Mr. Sero said.

The data also show that while the immigrant populace only increased 14.3 percent from the first quarter of 2003 to the first quarter of 2004, their employment rate almost doubled, reaching 28.5 percent during the same period.

“In other words,” the report said, “Employment for noncitizens grew twice as quickly as their population growth nationwide.”

The reasons for this employment growth among noncitizens are found in the mobility and availability of immigrants as a work force.

“They are getting a disproportionate share of the new jobs because they are meeting the demand that is being created,” Mr. Sero said. “As the economy is expanding, a large share of the new jobs are of the sort that immigrants, particularly recently arrived ones, are most likely to fill.”

The study does not distinguish between documented and undocumented immigrants, leaving the possibility that a large number of these jobs could be taken by people who are in the country illegally.

An estimated 8 million to 12 million illegal immigrants live in the United States.

The report, titled “Latino Labor Report, First Quarter 2004: Wage Growth Lags Gains in Employment,” also examines Hispanic employment rates, real weekly earnings levels, and Latinos’ positions in the labor market.

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