Apr 11

More Immigration Isn’t the Only Answer

The Quote below: More Misinformation the Media

Were it not for immigrants, the labor crunch would have been more intense. In 2016, immigrants accounted for one in four construction workers, according to a study by Natalia Siniavskaia of the home builders’ association, up from about one in five in 2004. In some of the least-skilled jobs – like plastering, roofing and hanging drywall, for which workers rarely have more than a high school education – the share of immigrants hovers around half. . . .

For all the fears of robots taking over jobs, some economists are worrying about the broader economic fallout from a lack of law-skilled workers. And businesses across the economy are complaining that without immigration they will be left without a workforce. . . .

The labor crunch is likely to persist for some time. The Pew Research Center projects very little growth in the working age population over the next two decades. If the United States were to cut off the flow of new immigrants, Pew noted, its working population would shrink to 166 million in 2035 from 173 million in 2015. . . .

Businesses scrambling for low skilled workers provide a glimpse into the kinds of strains a future of low immigration might bring. . . .

Consider agriculture, where seven in 10 workers were born in Mexico, and only one in four was born in the United States. . . .” – Short of Workers U.S. Builders and Farmers Crave More Immigrants, Eduardo Porter, 4/3/19 [Link]

Fact Check of Quote: Businesses wanting cheap labor always claim they face a labor shortage. Thus, these claims should not be taken at face value. With the official rate of unemployment now low, immigration advocates are using this situation to justify bringing in more foreign workers. Unfortunately, they seem to have influenced President Trump to endorse an increase in legal immigration even though he previously called for its reduction.

The president would do well to listen to his own Council of Economic Advisors who pointed out that the official unemployment rate does not count large numbers of Americans without jobs who could work. The council stated: “Although the low unemployment rate is a signal of a strong labor market, there is a question as to whether the rapid pace of hiring can continue and whether there are a sufficient number of remaining potential workers to support continued economic growth. This pessimistic view of the economy potential, however, overlooks the extent to which the share of prime-age adults who are in the labor market remains below its historic norm.”

The article mentions in passing “all the fears of robots taking our jobs” without considering the full implications of that statement. The fact of the matter is that studies now predict that within scarcely more than a decade 30 percent or more of jobs now done by humans will be automated. In this situation, it is difficult to see how we’re going to be facing a labor shortage.

In both construction and agriculture automation has much potential to fill jobs now performed by humans. This point aside, the supposed need for immigration to provide construction workers raises the question of why we anticipate the need for more construction. One of the biggest reasons, is projected population growth, 88 percent of which will be driven by immigration. Cutting immigration therefore would reduce the need for construction workers.

In agriculture, a significant obstacle holding back automation of hard low-wage jobs that Americans aren’t inclined to do is the availability of illegal alien labor. In reality, illegal aliens don’t particularly care for this kind of work either, and they leave for other jobs in our country as soon as they get the chance. Their absence creates a vacuum drawing in a new wave of illegal farm workers—and so the cycle continues.

Many growers would rather let this cycle continue rather than invest in automation. Stopping the flow of illegal aliens would prompt that investment. In the meantime, growers can switch to less labor intensive crops, increase wages and improve working conditions to attract Americans.

A common tactic of the pro-immigration media is to present an economic problem, and then pose more mass immigration as the only possible solution. A more responsible journalism would ask more questions and pose more options.

Permanent link to this article: http://www.aicfoundation.com/more-immigration-isnt-the-only-answer/

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