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Foreign-born worker numbers hold steady

WASHINGTON — The share of the U.S. labor force composed of the foreign born was little changed in 2009, and their unemployment rate rose from 5.8 to 9.7 percent, the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics reports. The jobless rate of the native born increased from 5.8 percent in 2008 to 9.2 percent in 2009.

Some highlights from the 2009 data are:

• Both the number of foreign-born labor force participants (23.9 million) and their share of the U.S. civilian labor force (15.5 percent) were little changed in 2009 for the second year in a row.

• The unemployment rate of the foreign born (9.7 percent) was higher than that of the native born (9.2 percent) for the first time since 2003.

• In 2009, the median usual weekly earnings of foreign-born full-time wage and salary workers were 79.1 percent of those of their native-born counterparts.

• Hispanics accounted for 50.1 percent of the foreign-born labor force, and another 22.3 percent was Asian.

• The number of foreign-born white non-Hispanics in the labor force declined, while the number of foreign born in the other major race and ethnicity groups showed little change.

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