As the economy sputters along with some signs of improvement, people often point to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics’s list of fastest-growing occupations as the bright spots in the labor market. These occupations—in nursing, home health care, and food service—are low-skilled, low-pay jobs, but at least they are market segments that present opportunity.
Much of that opportunity, it turns out, is being seized by immigrants. That’s one finding of an interesting study published Thursday by demographer Audrey Singer of the Brookings Institution in Washington. Singer’s study is noteworthy because it analyzes how immigrants and native-born Americans working in the same job sector stack up against one another and gives a sharper picture of where immigrants tend to cluster in the labor market. Using 2010 BLS data, she looked at differences in both the occupations and education levels of immigrant and native-born workers in eight sectors: health care, agriculture, construction, food service, hospitality, life sciences, information technology, and high-tech manufacturing. (The study did not include data on the workers’ legal status.)