Immigrants Substantially More Likely to Work Nights and Weekends than U.S.-Born, New Study Finds

Foreign-Born Workers are 25.2 Percent More Likely to Work Weekends, 15.6 Percent More Likely to Work Unusual Hours Generally

NEW YORK, New York – A new study from New American Economy shows that of the 30.2 million workers in America working the night shift, weekends, or other unusual working hours, nearly 5.5 million of them are foreign-born. The findings of the report are based on an analysis of the American Community Survey (ACS) and the American Time Use Survey (ATUS).

“Immigration helps keep the lights on,” said John Feinblatt, President of New American Economy. “The American economy never sleeps, and around the clock, immigrants play a significant role in boosting productivity and economic output.”

The report, On the Clock: How Immigrants Fill Gaps in the Labor Market by Working Nontraditional Hours, shows:

  • Immigrants are substantially more likely to work unusual hours than the U.S.-born. In 2015 immigrants were 15.6 percent more likely to work unusual hours than similar U.S.-born workers. This figure rises when we look solely at those working weekend shifts: Foreign-born workers were 25.2 percent more likely to work on the weekends than U.S.-born workers with similar characteristics.
  • Immigrants at high- and low-skilled ends of the labor spectrum are more likely to work unusual hours than their peers. High-skilled immigrants were 10.1 percent more likely to work unusual hours than high-skilled U.S.-born workers. Lesser-skilled immigrants, meanwhile, are 18.2 percent more likely to work odd hours than U.S.-born workers at the same skill level.
  • Immigrants play a particularly large role filling odd hour jobs in several key sectors of the economy. Immigrants working in a variety of healthcare positions are considerably more likely to work unusual hours than their U.S.-born peers. For instance, immigrant healthcare practitioners such as physicians are 20.6 percent more likely to work unusual hours than their peers, while the equivalent figure for immigrant healthcare support workers—such as nursing assistants—is 16.8 percent. Immigrants in education, library services, and related fields are 23.4 percent more likely to take on odd hours work than their peers.
  • Female immigrants are considerably more likely to work unusual hours than U.S.-born women. One major reason why immigrants are more likely to work unusual hours involves the work patterns of foreign-born women. While immigrant men are about 9.6 percent more likely than their U.S.-born counterparts to work unusual hours, immigrant women are 24.2 percent more likely than similar U.S.-born workers to do so.
  • Immigrants and U.S.-born workers who work unusual hours are often not competing for the same jobs. We find that almost a sixth of the increased likelihood of working unusual hours can be explained by immigrants and U.S.-born workers opting to work in different occupations. Among women, occupation explains almost a third of the difference. U.S.-born individuals working unusual hours tend to gravitate towards communication-heavy jobs such as cashiers or wait staff, while immigrants on such shifts are more likely to work as janitors, entry-level agriculture workers, or construction laborers.

Read the full report here. For related anecdotes and interview subjects not yet in the press, please reach out to

About NAE

New American Economy is a bipartisan research and advocacy organization fighting for smart federal, state, and local immigration policies that help grow our economy and create jobs for all Americans. More…