Will the Immigration Debate Impact Black Employment?

By Wiggins, Lori D. Roberts | The Crisis, May/June 2006 | Go to article overview

Will the Immigration Debate Impact Black Employment?


Wiggins, Lori D. Roberts, The Crisis


North Carolina is fertile ground for the debate in Congress over how to harness immigration through a dichotomy, or some cruse convergence, of wall-building and door-opening reforms.

The state is home to the nation's fastest growing Hispanic population. In 2004, the state's 600,913 Hispanics accounted for close to 28 percent of the increase in the state's population from 1990 to 2004. At the same time in North Carolina, like many other states, the unemployment rate for African American men holds steady at 10 percent. Nationally about half of all Black men living in inner cities are jobless.

"This is a real serious matter," says state Rep. Bernard Alien (D-Wake Forest). "North Carolina has a tremendous influx of undocumented immigrants, and my personal concern is that it has a tremendously negative impact on African American employment. Jobs we used to do; they're doing now. They're taking over."

According to "The Economic Impact of the Hispanic Population on the State of North Carolina, " released in January by the Kenan-Ragler Business School at the University of North Carolina (UNC) at Chapel Hill, Hispanics accounted for about 35 percent of the increase in the state's overall workforce in 2005 and filled one in three new jobs between 1995 and 2005. Hispanic immigrants, both documented and undocumented, work primarily in the construction industry, agriculture, trucking, and janitorial and maid services. The increase in the Hispanic population spun off an additional 89,000 jobs, the study found.

Jim Johnson, a Kenan Distinguished Professor of Management at the KenanFlagler Business School, says America is ill-prepared to replenish its dwindling workforce as 82 million "boomers" turn 50 to the tune of 12,000 a day.

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