George J. Borjas, Hugh Cassidy

Bibliographic Information

NBER Working Paper No. 27243
Issued in May 2020, Revised in June 2020
NBER Program(s):LS

This paper was revised on June 18, 2020

Available Formats


Employment rates in the United States fell dramatically between February 2020 and April 2020 as the repercussions of the COVID-19 pandemic reverberated through the labor market. This paper uses data from the CPS Basic Monthly Files to document that the employment decline was particularly severe for immigrants. Historically, immigrant men were more likely to be employed than native men. The COVID-related labor market disruptions eliminated the immigrant employment advantage. By April 2020, immigrant men had lower employment rates than native men. Part of the relative increase in the immigrant rate of job loss arises because immigrants were less likely to work in jobs that could be performed remotely and suffered disparate employment consequences as the lockdown permitted workers with more “remotable” skills to continue their work from home. Undocumented men were particularly hard hit by the pandemic, with their rate of job loss far exceeding the rate of job loss of legal immigrants.

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