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Microsoft Word crm-ptmt el Salvador 2009[final]. doc

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Regional Conference on Migration

 

 

35

TABLE 3 

EMPLOYMENT SECTOR, BY REGION OF BIRTH, 2007  

(Percentages for populations 16 years and older) 

Total 

Region of Birth 

Employment Sector 

Percentages 

of Nationals 

Percentages 

of Foreign 

Nationals 

Caribbean 

South 

America 

Central 

America 

Mexico 

Agriculture (and Others) 

1.8 2.6 0.3 

0.5 

1.5 

6.7 

Utilities (Electricity, Gas, and 

Water) 

0.8 0.3 0.4 

0.3 

0.2 

0.2 

Construction 7.1 

10.8 6.8 

11.1 

17.8 

19.8 

Industry 10.6 

13.0 

7.5 

10.0 

12.6 

15.6 

Commerce and Transportation 

19.3 17.1 20.9 

19.3 

15.9 

14.0 

Information and Communications  2.5 1.7 1.9 

1.9 

1.1 

0.6 

Finance 

6.9 5.5 7.3 

6.6 

4.4 

2.2 

Services to Enterprises  9.9 

11.3 

9.1 

11.3 

12.2 

10.5 

Education, Health, and Social 

Services 

21.1 16.6 26.5 

17.3 

10.8 

7.6 

Arts, Entertainment and Others 9.4 

11.8 

9.0 

10.2 

12.5 

14.7 

Other 

Services 

4.5 6.4 6.1 

8.7 

8.8 

6.3 

Public Administration 

4.8 2.0 3.1 

2.0 

1.4 

0.9 

Armed 

Forces 

0.7 0.2 0.3 

0.2 

0.2 

0.1 

Unemployment 

0.7 0.7 0.8 

0.6 

0.7 

0.7 

Total 

100.0 100.0 100.0 

100.0 

100.0 

100.0 

Source: Pew Hispanic Center, data from the American Community Survey (ACS), 2007 (1% IPUMS) 

 

 

In view of this background, the case of Mexican immigrants is typically discussed since it 

deserves special attention due to its relevance in terms of volume as a workforce, and because of the 

working conditions of Mexican immigrants. While no doubt exists about the fact that migrants 

contribute to different sectors of the US economy, sometimes it is questioned if a state, city, or 

particular US industry – like agriculture – would “collapse” without the current contingent of Mexican 

workers. For some people, “certainly, the US labor market and economy do not ‘depend’ upon foreign 

workers; however, it is also true that some industries and occupations in some sectors would face 

adjustment costs if their foreign employees would disappear…” (CELADE, 2001). According to these 

opinions, “workers born abroad – and particularly those born in Mexico – play a relatively minor role 

in most industries, occupations, and sectors. The four primary industrial sectors of the economy do not 

depend upon foreign nationals or Mexican nationals” (CELADE, 2001). Many others, especially 

Mexican analysts, completely refute this perception and base their arguments on results from official 

reports and other studies. The contribution not only is positive but also constitutes a subsidy for 

agricultural economy. Immigrants carry out tasks which no US national will accept; and agriculture is 

not the only strategic sector – other activities driving the North American labor market, such as food 

preparation, cleaning services and, in general, all types of personal services, are strategic as well 

(Bustamante, 2003). 

But what is really and objectively a problem is the fact that vulnerability among Latin 

Americans is acute, and this “is exacerbated in the case of Mexicans, since close to 80% of them do 

not have full rights on the labor market, 50% could be in irregular situations, and 30% are employed 

in sectors where subcontracting mechanisms prevail, such as agriculture and construction” (Massey 

and Bartley, 2005, quoted in CEPAL, 2008:137). 

In any case, the fact underlying immigration of Latin American and Caribbean nationals is 

their contribution to prosperity in the United States, which leads us to conclude that “immigrants have 

helped make the US labor market more flexible, which has caused an increase in the attraction of 

additional migrants” (Villa and Martínez, 2004, quoted in CEPAL, 2008:149). 



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