Construction workers are seen at a new building site in Silver Spring, Maryland, U.S. June 2, 2016. Gary Cameron/Reuters

In addition to being key to creative work, immigrants contribute enormously in the working-class and services sectors of the economy.

Earlier today, I wrote about how the Trump administration’s move to curb immigration could devastate the talent base of the nation—especially in large cities and metro areas like the San Francisco Bay area, Los Angeles, New York City, and Miami.

Meanwhile, all around the country, restaurant workers and construction workers in cities have gone on strike to protest President Trump’s immigration agenda. Given that, it is just as appropriate to highlight the way that our country and its metros depend on immigrants for blue-collar work and lower-paying jobs in the service economy.

Here again, I draw from data analysis by my colleague Steven Pedigo, who runs NYUSPS Schack Institute of Real Estate Urban Lab, compiling data from the five-year U.S. Census American Community Survey of 2015.

Immigrants and the Working Class

Nearly seven million immigrants are members of America’s blue-collar workforce. They build houses and office buildings, drive trucks, and staff factories. In fact, immigrants make up a fifth (22.3 percent) of the American working class.

Metros

Foreign-Born People in the Working Class

Foreign-Born Share of the Working Class

Los Angeles-Long Beach-Anaheim, CA

733,429

60.9%

Miami-Fort Lauderdale-West Palm Beach, FL

289,425

60.3%

San Jose-Sunnyvale-Santa Clara, CA

80,749

56.8%

New York-Newark-Jersey City, NY-NJ-PA

761,677

50.0%

San Francisco-Oakland-Hayward, CA

150,726

48.2%

Houston-The Woodlands-Sugar Land, TX

303,905

43.6%

Washington-Arlington-Alexandria, DC-VA-MD-WV

168,371

43.2%

Riverside-San Bernardino-Ontario, CA

186,492

41.8%

San Diego-Carlsbad, CA

93,795

39.6%

Dallas-Fort Worth-Arlington, TX

273,092

39.3%

In many cities, the percentages are far higher: Foreign-born residents make up more than 60 percent of the working class in Los Angeles and Miami, more than 50 percent in San Jose and New York, and more than 40 percent in the San Francisco, Houston, Riverside-San Bernardino, and Washington, D.C. metropolitan areas. San Diego and Dallas-Fort Worth round out the top ten, with another sixteen metros exceeding the national average share of immigrant working-class people.

Immigrants and the Service Sector

Across the country, more than ten million immigrants do low-wage service work: They make and serve food, work in offices and retail shops, and take care of kids and aging parents. This kind of work makes up nearly half of all jobs in America, and immigrants comprise 17 percent of this service workforce. But the role of immigrants doing service work is much, much higher in our largest and most productive metros.

Metro

Foreign-Born People in Service Sector

Foreign Born-Share of the Service Sector

Miami-Fort Lauderdale-West Palm Beach, FL

635,198

47.2%

San Jose-Sunnyvale-Santa Clara, CA

137,800

46.6%

Los Angeles-Long Beach-Anaheim, CA

1,133,716

42.0%

New York-Newark-Jersey City, NY-NJ-PA

1,567,757

35.9%

San Francisco-Oakland-Hayward, CA

346,506

35.9%

Houston-The Woodlands-Sugar Land, TX

345,021

29.8%

Riverside-San Bernardino-Ontario, CA

216,538

29.6%

Las Vegas-Henderson-Paradise, NV

166,588

29.0%

San Diego-Carlsbad, CA

193,928

28.9%

Washington-Arlington-Alexandria, DC-VA-MD-WV

366,715

28.0%

Foreign-born residents make up more than forty percent of service workers in Miami, San Jose, and Los Angeles, more than 35 percent in New York and San Francisco, and more than 25 percent in Houston, Riverside, Las Vegas, San Diego, and Washington, D.C. In addition, Dallas, Sacramento, Chicago, Orlando, Seattle, Boston, Austin, Atlanta, and Phoenix all exceed the national average for immigrants doing this kind of service work.

So if you live in any of these cities, take a look around, and remember who’s usually doing tough and tiring, low-paid blue-collar and service jobs that many Americans do not want to do.

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