COVID-19, Public Charge Rules, and Immigrant Employment in the United States



This article examines the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on immigrant employment in the United States using data from the Current Population Survey. It also provides the first evidence about the impact of the new public charge rules on the employment behavior of immigrants during the post-outbreak recovery. The authors find that among immigrants with household earnings at levels that make them susceptible to inadmissibility under the new rules, noncitizen status is associated with a 3.7% increase in employment among immigrant men. This effect is robust to inclusion of controls for socioeconomic characteristics and various fixed effects, and it is concentrated for men in states with below average unemployment benefit take-up. Findings also show that the differential employment effect is stronger in state-months with higher COVID-19 rates, suggesting that impacted workers may be increasing their workplace exposure to COVID-19.