Published on January 08, 2020




CapRelo specializes in helping employers and their global workforce to navigate the relocation process. Oftentimes this process involves helping an employee immigrate to a new country, where they will live and work where the company is headquartered. 

Organizations that invest in a strong candidate experience improve the quality of their new hires by 70 percent. (Glassdoor)(

It is understandable, then, that we would take a keen interest in the roles of immigrants in the workforce. While it is difficult to gather reliable information on those kinds of workers in every country, it is readily available in the United States, going back multiple years, thanks to the Bureau of Labor Statistics.   

85 percent of the 13,000 job seekers surveyed from North America, EMEA (Europe, the Middle East, and Africa) and APAC (Asia Pacific) regions claim that consistent communication throughout the recruitment process is the top driver of candidate satisfaction. (Allegis Group)(

We decided to take a deep dive into those statistics to show how important immigrants are to the American workforce. We also decided to track how these roles have changed and evolved over time. We graphed the data and changes we found to better illustrate the impact of foreign-born workers on a number of different industries as well as the U.S. economy as a whole. 

Companies in the top quartile for gender diversity are 15 percent more likely to have financial returns that are above the national medians for their industry. (EY)(


 Immigrant Representation in Workforce by Industry 2018

According to the BLS, there were over 28 million immigrants in the American workforce in 2018, working in a wide variety of industries. Manual labor professions, such as construction and maintenance, are the jobs that the highest percentage of immigrant workers participate in, but sales and administrative support were not far behind. Both industries had over 7% foreign-born workers among their ranks. Work in the legal field, social services, and protective service jobs are the three areas of work where immigrant workers are least represented, with each job being performed by less than 1% of foreign-born workers. 


Representation of Male Immigrants in Workforce by Industry 2018


Of course, those percentages are bound to fluctuate along gender lines, so we decided to look at how the numbers shake out when comparing men to women by industry. 

We found that 57% of immigrant workers are male, meaning over 16 million foreign-born men were working in America in 2018. For this portion of the population employed in the manual labor jobs of construction and transportation drastically jumped from the overall totals for all immigrants, hitting 15.9% and 10.7%, respectively. No other industry counted more than 7.9% of male immigrants as workers. 


Representation of Female Immigrants in Workforce by Industry 2018

Foreign-born females are better represented across a large variety of jobs according to the government data. While men disproportionately work in manual labor jobs, female immigrants top that 8% threshold in five different industries, including personal care, sales, and healthcare jobs. 


Changes In Immigration Employment by Industry 2007-2018

Those earlier graphics only give us a look at the present state of immigrant labor in America, and we wanted to see how things have changed. Thankfully the Bureau of Labor Statistics tracks this data going back more than a decade. 

First, we saw that foreign-born workers are becoming more prevalent in the workforce, with over 4 million more participating in 2018 compared to 11 years earlier. In terms of specific industry work, our analysis found that healthcare work has seen the biggest increase in representation, with 1% more immigrant workers in that field in 2018 compared to 2007. On the opposite end of things, foreign-born sales and office workers saw a decrease in participation of 2.6%, followed by natural resources and construction workers with a 2% decrease. 


Changes In Immigration Employment Among Men by Industry 2007-2018


When looking at changes in foreign-born make representation in the workforce, most data has remained relatively steady. The one major exception, however, is the service industry. In that field, there has been a decrease of over 3% among immigrant males, while architecture and engineering jobs experienced the biggest increase, at 0.4%. 

Changes In Immigration Employment Among Women by Industry 2007-2018

While men are working in service professions less, foreign-born women are finding jobs in that field much more in recent years. Since 2007, there has been a 1.4% increase in female immigrant representation in that industry, the second-largest increase after the 1.6% jump in healthcare work. Alternately, there has been a decrease in excess of 5% when it comes to immigrant women in sales and office jobs, the single biggest change in either direction among men and women. 

We live in a world where it is easier than ever to find work in places all around the globe, making foreign-born employees a part of the world economy that is both important and becoming more common by the day. As a result, we look forward to continuing to watch how immigration impacts specific industries as well as the economy as a whole, both in the United States and in nations around the world. And remember, if you are an employee or worker looking to relocate to any number of places on earth, CapRelo can handle all your relocation needs!