Cornell University

Catherwood Library

Catherwood Library, Ives Hall, 607-255-5435

Question of the Month

From the Catherwood Library reference librarians

May 2006

PLEASE NOTE: The Reference Question of the Month is kept current only during the month for which it was written. Archived questions will not be updated, and over time may contain inaccurate information or broken web links. We provide archived questions as a service, since much of the information will remain accurate and of continued interest to the ILR community.

Question: I have been hearing a lot about the Guest Worker Program that President Bush has proposed. Where can I find more information on immigrant labor in the U.S. workforce?

Answer: In 2005, foreign-born workers made up about 15 percent of the U.S. civilian labor force age 16 and over. In the same year, the median usual weekly earnings of foreign-born full-time wage and salary workers were $511, compared with $677 for the native born. The following sources provide information on demographics, earnings and occupations for foreign-born workers in the United States, as well as highlighting other materials related this issue.

Statistical information

The U.S. Census Bureau is a good starting point for finding information on the number of immigrants in the United States, as well as the earnings and occupations of foreign-born workers:

Foreign Born Population in the United States: 2003
Includes tables with income data
Earnings: Foreign-Born Workers
This news release compares the labor force characteristics of the foreign born with those of their native-born counterparts.


The Congressional Budget Office has several publications related to immigration, including the following publication which examines the role of immigrants in the U. S. labor market:
The Role of Immigrants in the U.S. Labor Market

The NBER Working Paper Series also has a pertinent report:
Labor Market Impact of High-Skill Immigration

CQResearcher information on immigration, including a report entitled, "Do illegal workers help or hurt the economy?" issued on 5/6/05. To access this report, type "illegal immigration" in the search box on the left-hand side of the CQResearch web site.

DigitalCommons at ILR has several documents relating to the Guest Worker Program and immigration, including Congressional testimony by ILR Professor Vernon Briggs Jr. Search by keyword 'immigration' or by author 'briggs'.

One example of Dr. Briggs' publications is:
"Doomed to Fail: The Unintended Consequences of Guestworker Programs"

Web sites

Migration Information Source
The Migration Information Source provides data from numerous global organizations and governments, and global analysis of international migration and refugee trends. Information on the impact of immigration labor in the United States is included on this site.

Benders Immigration Bulletin
This site provides daily updates with articles relating to all aspects of the law and immigration, including immigration and employment.

— Researched by Deborah Schmidle