Still an Hourglass? Immigrant workers in Middle-skilled Jobs (Report in Brief)

Randy Capps, Michael Fix and Serena Yi-Ying Lin
Date of Publication: 
September, 2010
Source Organization: 
Migration Policy Institute

This report casts doubt on  the depiction of the immigrant workforce as an hourglass noting that almost a quarter of immigrants in 2006 were working in "middle skill" jobs compared to 29% of native-born Americans. Middle-skilled jobs are defined as "jobs that require more than a high school but less than a four-year college degree and that typically pay a family-sustaining wage ($30,000 annually per worker). In three of four specific occupations analyzed in the report (healthcare, IT and hospitality) the percent of immigrants actually exceeded that of native workers. One possible reason, according to the authors, may be the overrepresentation of immigrants with college and advanced degrees in these jobs as a result of their inability to meet credentialing requirements in higher skilled occupations.

Download now or view online.


Capps, R., Fix, M., and Lin, S. Y. (2010). Still an Hourglass? Immigrant Workers in Middle-skilled Jobs (Report in Brief). Washington, D.C.: Migration Policy Institute. Retrieved from