U.S.-born share of Hispanic workforce eclipses immigrants

LOS ANGELES (Reuters) - For the first time in nearly 20 years, most Hispanic workers in the United States are native-born citizens and not immigrants due mainly to waning migration from Latin America, a Pew Research Center study released on Thursday showed.

Since the start of a recession in December 2007 and in the slow jobs recovery that followed, fewer Latino immigrants crossed into the United States, and millions of U.S.-born Hispanics joined the workforce, according to the center.

As a result, only 49.7 percent of the more than 22 million employed Latinos in the United States were immigrants in 2013, the Pew study found. That was a steep drop from 2007 when immigrants made up 56.1 percent of the Latino workforce, both as legal residents or naturalized citizens and as unauthorized immigrants.

Until last year, immigrants represented more than 50 percent of the Hispanic workforce going back to 1995.

Meanwhile, the U.S.-born share of the Latino workforce is expected to increase, as such citizens account for most of the growth in the Hispanic population in the United States rather than the arrival of new immigrants, the Pew study found.

About half of all Hispanic workers in the country are employed in either construction, the food, beverage and lodging industries, wholesale and retail trade and professional and other business services, according to Pew.

About 53 million Hispanics live in the United States, making them the largest ethnic minority in the country, according to U.S. Census Bureau figures.

The Pew Research Center study was based on data from the Current Population Survey, which is conducted by the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics and the Census Bureau and surveys 55,000 households per month.

(Reporting by Alex Dobuzinskis; Editing by Bill Trott)