Jul 27

Cutting Immigration Is a Great Idea

More Misinformation from the Media:

President Trump’s “to do” list still includes cutting legal immigration. A Washington Post survey of 18 economists over the weekend found that 89 percent said that it was a terrible idea for Trump to curb immigration to the United States. . . . The bottom line is: The United States needs more workers. U.S. unemployment is at 4.4 percent. . . . That implies there aren’t many people struggling to find work. . . . From an economics standpoint, the key is to get more workers with the desired skills into the country. It’s why the tech industry is lobbying for more H-1B visas. . . . Carl Tannenbaum, chief economist at Northern Trust . . . is concerned . . . that the president’s anti-immigrant rhetoric and travel ban are already encouraging the best young minds in the world . . . to look elsewhere for their . . . early careers. – Cutting Legal Immigration 50 Percent Might Be Trump’s Worst Economic Idea, The Washington Post, Heather Long, 7/17/17. [Link]

Fact Check: This article offers no reason to believe that these economists have any particular expertise on immigration. Economics is a broad field, and the economic impact of immigration may not be the specialty of most or all of these economists.

Does the United States really need more workers, supplied by an endless stream of mass immigration? Some of our economic elites say this is so, as they profit handsomely from the cheap labor that the stream provides. But does legal immigration, now at the highest sustained level in our history, meet real needs of our society in general?

Yes, the official level of unemployment is low, but this does not argue for an open door for immigration. That level, the so-called U-3 figure, greatly underestimates the number of Americans struggling in the job market. A more accurate measure is the U-6 figure which includes people who have given up looking for work, people who haven’t looked lately, and people who cannot find full-time employment and have to settle for part-time employment, usually low-paying. The U-6 rate is almost twice the C-3 rate.

Overall, during the past several decades we have developed a low-wage economy. During that time, the rise of the present wave of immigration has contributed to wage suppression. Thus if we want wages to increase, we should curtail immigration.

Research shows that immigration harms America’s poor and working-class people most of all, but they aren’t the only ones harmed. Despite the never-ending pleas of the tech industries for more foreign H-1B workers, strong evidence reveals that there are plenty of qualified Americans available to do those high-end jobs. The companies prefer the visa holders because they can pay them less.

As companies have complained about a lack of qualified American workers, a number of them in recent years have decided to terminate their U.S. workers, but not before requiring them to train their foreign replacements. Obviously, the foreign replacements were not more qualified than the Americans who were training them.

Additionally, a strong argument that we will not need immigration for workers is that America is on the brink of a revolution of automation. Studies project [Here and Here] that almost half of U.S. jobs now done by humans will be done by computers and machines in the fairly near future. In that situation, a shortage of workers would be the least of our concerns.

One thing humorous about Long’s article is the quote from Tannenbaum about Trump’s travel ban discouraging foreigners from coming here. The purpose of the travel ban is to screen out potential terrorists. No doubt they are willing to do jobs that most Americans refuse to do. But their skills are hardly those we would care to have.

Permanent link to this article: http://www.aicfoundation.com/cutting-immigration-is-a-great-idea/

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