Fox host Laura Ingraham highlighting -663,000 native-born workers from the May 2024 jobs report

Research/Study Research/Study

Right-wing media reacted to blowout May jobs report with nativism, some pushed “great replacement” conspiracy theory

Conservatives fixated on job growth among “foreign-born workers,” ignoring that half of them are U.S. citizens and that many native-born workers are simply retiring

Following the June 7 release of the latest federal jobs report — which showed that employment increased by 272,000 jobs in May, far more than the expectations of 180,000 jobs — many right-wing commentators responded by denouncing the job creation witnessed during the Biden administration for mostly going to “foreign-born workers” versus “native-born.” In some cases, these commentators indirectly or even explicitly referred to the racist “great replacement” conspiracy theory, a white nationalist belief that immigration is being used to intentionally decrease the share of white people in the total population to benefit a left-wing political agenda.

What these right-wing conspiracy theorists overlooked in their complaints about job growth among “foreign-born” workers is that nearly half of that group are already American citizens, while millions more are lawful permanent residents who legally work in the United States.

  • Conservatives denigrated the positive jobs report by highlighting job gain for foreign-born workers

  • Multiple right-wing media personalities, conservative outlets, and even Republican officials criticized the jobs report for showing gains by foreign-born workers and losses for native-born workers.

    On its @GOP account on X (formerly known as Twitter), the Republican National Committee posted: “Employment for native-born American workers fell by 663,000 last month per today’s jobs report.” Heritage Foundation economist E.J. Antoni wrote: “No wonder Americans view economy so terribly: they aren't the ones w/ the jobs; native-born employment is not only millions below pre-pandemic trend, but even below pre-pandemic level, while millions more foreign workers are employed today than Feb '20, and back to trend.” Antoni later added, “All of the net job growth over the last year has gone to foreign-born workers, (a category which the Labor Dept. admits includes illegal aliens) while native-born Americans have lost a net 300k jobs.”

    Other responses were more explicit in connecting the jobs report numbers to immigration policy. Breitbart posted: “Border remains open, jobs report exceeds expectations. Simple as.” Former Fox News producer Kyle Becker wrote: “Where are Americans' jobs going? The Foreign Born. Illegal aliens literally ‘took our jobs.’” And MAGA strategist Alex Bruesewitz wrote: “Biden continues to put illegals ahead of Americans.”

    Even more right-wing commentators (and at least one U.S. senator) reposted what right-wing finance commentator Zero Hedge wrote: “And the number you've all been waiting for: Native-born workers: -663K Foreign-born workers (mostly illegal aliens): +414K.”

  • A post from zerohedge on X/Twitter
  • Several commentators, both on right-wing TV programs or on Twitter/X citing Zero Hedge, either implicitly or explicitly cited the racist “great replacement” conspiracy theory while commenting on the jobs report:

    • Fox host Laura Ingraham: “Americans are literally being replaced in the job market.” Ingraham commented that “the number of foreign-born workers including illegals jumped 414,000, while native-born workers dropped 663,000” is one of the “disturbing trends” of the jobs report. She concluded: “The Biden regime doesn't believe in Americans first, they've proven that because they're all citizens of the world. And they will always, and I mean always prefer immigrants, legal or illegal, first.” [Fox News, The Ingraham Angle, 6/7/24]
    • Fox contributor Liz Peek: “We have numbers that foreign-born workers are taking most of the job increases, and native-born Americans are losing jobs overall.” [Fox Business, The Evening Edit, 6/7/24]
    • OAN chief White House correspondent Monica Paige: “What’s not being reported on is that the 263,000 foreign workers joined the labor force, while 171,000 American workers left. And even more alarming is that employment for foreign workers rose by more than 400,000, while employment for American workers fell by more than 650,000.” Paige interviewed Americans For Fair Taxation’s Steven L. Hayes about the jobs report, and he said: “You’ve also got a huge number, like, wasn't it 500,000 Venezuelans that Biden gave work authorization to? So you've got a huge number of people coming into the workforce who are pushing out or reducing the ability of many native-born Americans.” [One America News Network, 6/7/24]
    • Fox guest Peter Morici: “Illegal immigrants” are “taking those jobs” in the latest jobs report. Morici went on to blame immigration for driving up housing costs and other prices. [Fox News, Fox News Live, 6/9/24]
    • Arizona Republican U.S. Senate candidate Kari Lake: “All of the job gains... went to foreign-born workers, went to people pouring illegally into our country.” [Newsmax, American Agenda, 6/7/24]
    • Fox Business host and former Trump economic adviser Larry Kudlow: “Foreign workers, many of whom are illegal, are replacing the native-born workers.” During an appearance on Fox’s America Reports, Kudlow downplayed the positive jobs report, stating: “This is a very strange report, OK? The top line number is very good, 272,000. Private payrolls, 229,000. Those are good numbers, OK? But – and it's a huge but – when you look under the hood at some other things, it's a terrible number.” He later added, “Part-time jobs rose 286,000. People are working part-time, not full-time. This is a sign of weakness. And the other one is the foreign workers, many of whom are illegal, are replacing the native-born workers. This month shows it once again.” [Fox News, America Reports, 6/7/24]
    • Kudlow claimed the jobs report shows “414,000 immigrants, both illegal and legal, gain jobs while 663,000 native-born Americans lost jobs.” “This discouraging pattern has been going on for some time,” Kudlow continued, while an on-screen graphic exaggerated the discrepancy, concluding that “the trend line has accelerated significantly during the Biden years.” [Fox Business, Kudlow, 6/7/24]
    • Fox Business guest: “Since 2019, we've had 1.4 million native-born workers unemployed – 3 million foreign-born workers got jobs.” During an appearance on Fox Business, Circle Squared CEO Jeff Sica introduced the talking point about foreign-born workers who have witnessed job gains relative to native-born workers, which was inescapable in the right-wing media echo chamber, by claiming it was something “nobody” was talking about. [Fox Business, The Big Money Show, 6/7/24]
    • TheBlaze editor-in-chief Matthew Peterson: “The economic policy of Washington, DC and the people who lead our nation is to replace American workers with foreigners. To replace the republic with a global empire under the banner of wokeness.” [Twitter/X, 6/7/24]
    • Right-wing pollster Rasmussen Reports responded to Zero Hedge’s post by sharing an image of its polling questions on the “great replacement” conspiracy theory. In another post, Rasmussen Reports wrote: “People who said this would happen were vilified.” [Twitter/X, 6/7/24, 6/7/24]
    • Pro-Trump social media personality Phillip Buchanan, known as Catturd: “Check this out - this will piss you off bigly. The Biden regime is replacing you with illegals.” [Twitter/X, 6/7/24; Daily Dot, 7/25/23]
    • Right-wing pundit and serial plagiarist Benny Johnson: “The Great Replacement.” [Twitter/X, 6/7/24]
    • Sen. J.D. Vance (R-OH): “The Biden economy is a war on American citizens.” [Twitter/X, 6/7/24]
    • Fox Business correspondent Charles Gasparino: “The scary part of this is not that they are working, it's that the US maintains a vast welfare state that they tap into even as they work at low-skilled jobs. And as Milton Friedman said: You cant have open borders and a welfare states.” [Twitter/X, 6/7/24]
    • Far-right social media influencer Rogan O'Handley, known online as DC_Draino: “When we say big corporations want open borders to hire cheap labor, it’s not a conspiracy theory. Look at these jobs numbers: Americans have lost 663,000 jobs. Immigrants (mostly illegal) have gained 414,000. And this is just what the government admits to. It’s so much worse.” [Twitter/X, 6/7/24]
    • The Federalist senior contributor Benjamin Weingarten: “The dirty secret about the Biden economy.” [Twitter/X, 6/7/24]
  • Half of foreign-born workers are American citizens, and experts offered crucial context about the jobs report’s numbers of immigrant workers and retiring Americans

  • This is not the first time that right-wing nativists have exaggerated the supposed problem of “foreign-born” workers getting jobs in the United States. In addition to ignoring the economic contributions of immigrants, the right-wing outcry consistently overlooks one simple fact: half of those “foreign-born” workers are Americans.

    According to the U.S. Census Bureau’s most recent Current Population Survey, roughly half of the immigrants living in the United States are American citizens. In 2023, there were nearly 24 million naturalized American citizens of all ages (49% of the immigrant population) and just under 25 million other immigrants living in the United States as noncitizens (51%). Among the working-age population that comprises the civilian labor force (those persons 16 years and older), the ratios remain basically the same: Just over 14 million workers (49% of the immigrant workforce) were naturalized American citizens, while roughly 15 million (51%) were noncitizens. The 2023 survey also found that these naturalized American citizens were slightly more likely to be employed than native-born and noncitizen workers, with the naturalized workforce witnessing an unemployment rate of 2.8% versus 3.7% for the native-born workforce and 4.3% for the noncitizen workforce. (Historically, an unemployment rate of around 3.5 to 4% has been considered “full employment.”)

    In a social media thread about the right-wing response to this “foreign-born” jobs number, U.S. Census Bureau economist John Voorheis argued that the “citizen rate for the foreign born employed population” is actually about 53.7%, which would mean a full majority of working immigrants are American citizens.

    According to a 2023 estimate from the Department of Homeland Security, there are also 12.7 million Lawful Permanent Residents living in the United States, nearly 9 million of whom are working-aged adults who meet the eligibility requirements to be citizens.

    When right-wing conspiracy theorists peddle the lie that job growth has gone “mostly [to] illegal aliens," they are smearing a group that is mostly Americans and lawful residents who are here legally and have a right to work.

    • Census Bureau economist John Voorheis: “Obviously the native worker discourse is just twitter racism leaking out and not based on careful data analysis.” Responding to the misleading post from Zero Hedge, Voorheis wrote: “I mean obviously the native worker discourse is just twitter racism leaking out and not based on careful data analysis, but what would be the policy prescription if it was? Put 85 year olds back on the assembly line? Invent a time machine and increase fertility in the 90s?” [Twitter/X, 6/7/24]
    • Economics writer Joe Politano: “1/2 of foreign-born workers are American citizens and many others are on visas—the ‘mostly illegal aliens’ comment is not based on anything in the jobs data.” Politano later added “this is another good example of the immigration policy discourse where people who just don't want immigrants flip between ‘they're taking our jobs’ and ‘they're lazy and don't work’ whenever it's convenient to them.” [Twitter/X, 6/7/24, 6/7/24]
    • Former White House Council of Economic Advisers chief economist Ernie Tedeschi: “The native-born population is aging and becoming likelier and likelier to retire. Need to account for this when thinking about jobs.” He added, “Here's one approach: the employment-to-population ratio for prime-age (25-54) native-born workers [is] currently higher than pre-pandemic & pre-2008.” [Twitter/X, 6/7/24]
    • Washington Post columnist Catherine Rampell: “The unemployment rate for native-born Americans is 3.8%. Yet nativist politicians [are] trying to spin a narrative that immigrants have forced native-born Americans out of jobs.” Rampell explained in another social media thread that native-born workers “skew older” and “increasingly age into retirement,” adding, “On net, [the] number of native-born workers with jobs is about flat relative to pre-pandemic.” She also noted: “Unemployment rates for native-born workers are super low (3.8%). It's just that as the native-born US population ages, we need more immigration to replace those retiring.” [Twitter/X, 6/7/24, 6/7/24, 6/7/24]
    • Rampell: “I've seen people claim that all growth in immigrant population/employment is due to illegal border crossers. That is incorrect. Recall Trump dismantled the *legal* immigration system too. Much of recent increase in foreign-born pop relates to repair of that legal system.” [Twitter/X, 6/7/24]
    • Burning Glass Institute economic research director Guy Berger: “The unemployment rate for immigrants has risen by more than that for the native-born and is now a little higher (after being lower for a few years).” [Twitter/X, 6/7/24]