The unemployment rate of immigrants fell to 8.1% in 2012, the same as the jobless level for people born in America. This marks the first time in several years that immigrants have not had a higher jobless rate.
As Congress debates immigration reform, the work experiences of those born outside this country grow in importance.
Still, the overall unemployment rate of immigrants masks differences between the races. Foreign-born whites, for instance, have a higher unemployment rate than their native-born counterparts. (The unemployment rates for both white immigrants and white natives are still below the overall average though.) But other immigrant groups are less likely to be unemployed than their peers born in America.
Immigrants, however, are more likely to be employed in lower-paying fields, such as service jobs, construction and maintenance. So their pay is lower than workers who were born here.
The vast majority of immigrant workers are Hispanic, followed by Asians, whites and blacks.
The Romney-Ryan camp is trying to discredit the falling unemployment rate, claiming it's due mainly to workers dropping out of the labor force. But Obama administration official Gene Sperling shot back Tuesday: "That just ain't so."
Sperling, who heads the White House's National Economic Council, pointed to data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics, which shows the unemployment rate fell to 7.8% last month, down from 9.0% a year earlier. Most MOREAnnalyn Kurtz - Oct 16, 2012 4:02 PM ET
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