Related BLS programs | Related articles
June 2004, Vol. 127, No. 6
Foreign-born workers: trends in fatal occupational injuries, 1996–2001
Katherine Loh and Scott Richardson
New immigrants who arrived in the United States during the 1990–2001 period accounted for 50.3 percent of the growth in the Nation’s civilian labor force.1 That is, one out of every two net new labor force participants during this period was a new foreign immigrant. Historically, Current Population Survey (CPS) figures show that foreign-born workers, who accounted for 1 in every 17 workers in 1960, increased their share of the labor force to one in eight by 2000.2
As the share of foreign-born employment has increased, so has the share of fatal occupational injuries to foreign-born workers. Yet, while the share of foreign-born employment increased by 22 percent from 1996 to 20003 the share of fatal occupational injuries for this population increased by 43 percent. This increase in fatal work injuries among foreign-born workers occurred at a time when the overall number of fatal occupational injuries to U.S. workers declined by 5 percent. As a result, the fatality rate for foreign-born workers has not mirrored the improvement seen in the overall fatality rate over this period. In 2001, the fatality rate for all U.S. workers decreased to a series low of 4.3 per 100,000 workers, but the fatality rate for foreign-born workers recorded a series high of 5.7 per 100,000 workers.
Foreign-born workers are disproportionately represented in occupations and industries with higher risks of fatality.4 Lower levels of educational attainment and lack of English language proficiency may limit employment options for many foreign-born workers. The U.S. Census Bureau reported that in 2000 33 percent of the foreign-born population aged 25 and older did not have a high school diploma, compared with 13 percent of the native-born population.5 And, according to the National Immigration Forum, more than 40 percent of new immigrants in 1990 stated that they did not speak English well.6 These fractions are even higher among the Latin American foreign-born who represent about half of the foreign-born workers in the United States. Low educational attainment, lack of English proficiency, and other factors contribute to employment of many foreign-born workers in lower paying,7 higher risk jobs.8
This excerpt is from an article published in the June 2004 issue of the Monthly Labor Review. The full text of the article is available in Adobe Acrobat's Portable Document Format (PDF). See How to view a PDF file for more information.
Read abstract Download full article in PDF (74K)
1 See Andrew Sum, and others, "Immigrant Workers and the Great American Job Machine: The Contribution of New Foreign Immigration to National and Regional Labor Force Growth in the 1990s," (Northeastern University, Center for Labor Market Studies, August 2002). This study includes in its definition of foreign-born population those persons born in Puerto Rico, Guam, and the U.S. Virgin Islands, contrary to the U.S. Census Bureau practices. Although they do raise the number of new foreign immigrants, their inclusion, as stated by the study’s authors, "does not have a large effect on overall estimates of the number of new foreign immigrants arriving in the U.S. during the 1990–2000 period, since they…[accounted] for only 2.7% of the total number of new foreign immigrants."
2 See Abraham T. Mosisa, "The Role of Foreign-born Workers in the U.S. Economy," Monthly Labor Review, May 2002, pp. 3–14, available on the Internet at www.bls.gov/opub/mlr/2002/05/contents.htm.
3 Foreign-born employment figures stated and used in fatality rate calculations throughout the article, except those detailing region of origin, were derived from unpublished employment tables from the Current Population Survey (CPS). The CPS is a monthly survey conducted by the Bureau of the Census for the Bureau of Labor Statistics. The data on foreign-born employment by region of origin were obtained from the U.S. Census Bureau. For more information, see A. Dianne Schmidley, "Profile of the Foreign-born Population in the United States: 2000," Current Population Reports Series P23-306 (Washington, DC, U.S. Census Bureau, December 2001). The report can also be found on the Internet at: http://www.census.gov/prod/2002pubs/p23-206.pdf.
4 See Scott Richardson and others, "Hispanic Workers in the United States: An Analysis of Employment Distributions, Fatal Occupational Injuries, and Non-fatal Occupational Injuries and Illnesses," in Safety is Seguridad (Washington, DC, National Research Council of the National Academies, 2003).
5 See Mosisa, Abraham, "The role of foreign-born workers in the U.S. economy," Monthly Labor Review, May 2002, pp. 3–14 and Schmidley, "Profile of the Foreign-born Population," 2001, http://www.census.gov/prod/2002pubs/p23-206.pdf.
6 See Gregory Rodriguez, "From Newcomers to New Americans: The Successful Integration of Immigrants into American Society" (Washington, DC, National Immigration Forum, July 1999).
7 See Mosisa, "Role of foreign-born workers," 2002 and Schmidley, "Profile of the Foreign-born Population," 2001, http://www.census.gov/prod/2002pubs/p23-206.pdf.
8 See Richardson and others, "Hispanic Workers in the United States," 2003.
Related BLS programs
Injuries, Illnesses and Fatalities
Labor Force Statistics from the Current Population Survey
role of foreign-born workers in the U.S. economy —May
How do immigrants fare in the U.S. labor market?—Dec. 1992.
Within Monthly Labor Review Online:
Welcome | Current Issue | Index | Subscribe | Archives
Exit Monthly Labor Review Online:
BLS Home | Publications & Research Papers