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PunditFact: Claim that immigrants have captured all jobs created since 2000 is overstatement

The statement

Immigrants "have captured all of the nearly 9 million jobs created since 2000."

Peter Morici, economist at the University of Maryland, in an op-ed in the Statesman Journal

The ruling

Morici told PunditFact he got his numbers from a recent report by the Center for Immigration Studies, a group that favors reduced immigration.

"The total number of working-age (16 to 65) immigrants (legal and illegal) holding a job increased 5.7 million from the first quarter of 2000 to the first quarter of 2014, while declining 127,000 for natives," the report said.

While the report didn't spell out how many jobs the economy gained since 2000, it provided a link to a table that showed a growth of about 5.5 million jobs. These numbers largely match data provided by the government's Bureau of Labor Statistics.

So it might look as though Morici is on firm ground. The center's study found that the number of jobs gained by the foreign-born was pretty much the same as the number of new jobs added to the economy.

But there are a few hitches.

First, that study focused on workers between 16 and 65 years old. In a footnote, the authors acknowledge that the results would look quite different if they had included older workers.

Using the study's table, we did that and saw that while foreign-born workers did better than those born in the United States, they didn't account for all of the gains. For workers 16 years old and up, the total change in employment was about 8.8 million. Of that, the number of foreign-born workers grew about 6.2 million and for native-born, the number was 2.6 million.

If you parse Morici's statement, you can see where these numbers get him into trouble. If he wants to speak of nearly 9 million new jobs, then he has to accept that about 70 percent, not 100 percent, went to immigrants. If he wants to assert that all the new jobs went to immigrants, then he should have talked about 5.5 million new jobs in the 16-65 age range. As it stands, the two parts of his statement don't fit together.

The center's study also noted that the time period you pick will change what the data show. The report said, "Since the jobs recovery began in 2010, 43 percent of employment growth has gone to immigrants." That, obviously, is much less than "all" of the new jobs.

It is worth noting that the study lumped legal and illegal immigrants together. Morici made a passing reference to illegal immigrants taking "many" of the new jobs. That claim is difficult to verify one way or the other because within the group of foreign-born workers, the ratio of American citizens to noncitizens has changed greatly in the past 15 years. In 2000, noncitizens outnumbered citizens by about 60 percent. In 2014, the difference was just 10 percent.

Furthermore, it would be a mistake to treat all of the noncitizen workers as illegal immigrants. All the data show is that they were not born in this country and have not become citizens. They could have proper work permits, so their legal status is unknown.

Morici is correct that foreign-born workers, both citizens and noncitizens, do disproportionately well in the job market. But the actual numbers fall well short of the 100 percent that he said. "All" is an overstatement.

We rate the claim Mostly False.

Jon Greenberg, Times staff writer

Edited for print. Read the full version at