Immigrants' U.S. Labor Market Adjustment: Disaggregating the Occupational Transitions

Ilana Redstone Akresh, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign

Using data from the New Immigrant Survey 2003 cohort, changes in occupational prestige between the last job abroad and the first U.S. job and from the first U.S. job to the current U.S. job are examined. Incorporating the first job in the U.S. overcomes an important limitation faced by many previous studies, which were generally restricted to a comparison of the last job abroad and the U.S. job as measured at the time of the survey. Distinctions are made between class of admission groups as the trajectories toward labor market success vary systematically along this dimension. Consistent with a model of immigrant occupational assimilation, all class of admission groups show a U-shaped adjustment pattern with, on average, initial downgrading followed by subsequent ascension. However, although all groups exhibit a similar pattern, the trough of the U is deepest for refugees, who also experience the steepest subsequent upward climb.

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Presented in Session 138: Immigrants in the U.S. Labor Force