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The share of non-citizens in the US keeps declining during the pandemic

An image of the U.S.-Mexico border near California.
Reuters/Mike Blake
A not so active border.
By Dan Kopf
Published Last updated This article is more than 2 years old.

Just 6.2% of the people in households surveyed for the US’s monthly employment survey responded they were not US citizens in June 2020. This is the lowest share of non-citizens since 2000, and down from 6.8% in February.

Why it’s important: President Donald Trump has used the Covid-19 pandemic as an opportunity close down the US’s borders. The declining number of non-citizens suggests the closures are accomplishing his administration’s goal of decreasing migration to the US. The decline may also be a result of non-citizens returning to their country of origin because they are unable to find work in a weakened economy.

Why it’s interesting: It’s not yet clear whether the pandemic will lead to increased xenophobia and fear of globalization, but it is certainly limiting the movement of people across the world.  Until there is a vaccine or fully effective treatment, it’s possible that there may be a rise in migration and travel bubbles—clusters of countries that only allow visitors or immigrants from regions known to have Covid-19 under control.

How to find more data: The data, which are used to calculate the unemployment rate, come from the US’s Current Population Survey, a monthly survey of about 60,000 households. The data show that the unemployment rate for the US’s foreign-born population has increased at a faster rate than it has for those born in the country.

This story is part of a new series we’re trying, “The Thing,” in which we examine what a single chart can tell us about the global economy. 

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