August 2, 2010. How are immigrants faring in the economic downturn? Data released by FPI shows that immigrants, who make up nearly half of the New York City labor force, have an unemployment rate that is slightly lower than for U.S.-born workers. First, immigration is sensitive to labor market demand, so when there are fewer jobs, immigration slows. Second, lacking a safety net, immigrants are more likely to work at whatever jobs they can get. U.S.-born workers may have the resources to search longer for jobs that better match their skill level.