The Quote Below – More Misinformation from the Media
“’Our country is full,” President Donald Trump has said several times.
“That’s hardly the case. There are more job openings 6.4 million than there are people looking for work (5.8 million}, according to the latest Labor Department figures. Friday’s federal jobs report showed employment rising by 273,000 in February and the jobless rate little changed at 3.5 percent, a 50-year low.
“To be sure, the new coronavirus outbreak appears likely to trigger significant economic disruption in the months ahead, a concern reflected in Monday’s 2,000-point plunge in the Dow Jones Industrial Average. But longer term, America faces labor shortages and declining fertility rates. Healthy rates of legal immigration can add dynamism to the nation’s economy.
“That isn’t happening. The United States only took in 595,000 immigrants last year, the fewest in decades. The nonpartisan National Foundation for American Policy projects that the trend will continue at the rate of 30 percent fewer immigrants each year.
“The reason is not anything Congress has done. It’s the result of Trump administration policies executed under the rubric of fighting terrorism or sifting for only the finest immigrants.
“The number of refugees allowed into the country has fallen under the Trump administration to historic lows. More countries have been added to Trump’s travel ban list, choking off a stream of Burmese and Somali immigrants willing to work the dangerous conditions in meat processing, or Nigerian nurses the health industry needs to staff chronic vacancies.” – America ‘Is Desperate for Labor’ Yet Is Taking in Fewer Immigrants Each Year, The Editorial Board, USA Today, 3/9/20. [Link]
Fact Check of Above Quote: The official unemployment rate cited above only includes people who have looked for work during the past four weeks. There are, however, a total of 50 million working-age non-disabled people in the U.S. who are not working. Most perhaps don’t want to work, but a tight labor market that elevates wages could draw millions of them back into the workforce. Mass immigration prevents the labor market from tightening.
Not too long ago unionized Americans commonly worked in dangerous conditions in meat packing. The reason they did so was that they received good wages for their work. Now the wages in that field are relatively low.
Another reason we don’t need to worry about future labor shortages is that automation in the near future will replace a large number of people in many different jobs. Within little more than a decade, machines may do as many as 40 percent of jobs now done by people.
The USA Today editorial is in error when it claims that the Trump Administration’s travel ban and reduction of refugee admissions significantly reduced our annual flow of legal immigration. For the past twenty years it has averaged more than one million a year. The editorial does not give a source for claiming that the U.S. “only took in 595,000 immigrants last year.” According to the 2018 Yearbook of Immigration Statistics, published by the Department of Homeland Security, the total for 2018 was 1,096,611 immigrants.
The editorial makes a slight concession to the need for caution during the present coronavirus outbreak, but then goes on to assure readers that in the “long term” we should continue with business as usual and mass immigration. Business-as-usual, however, may be some time away—most literally.
The measures of shutting down business to stop the virus, if they last for any significant length of time, pose a real danger to the economy. Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis President James Bullard predicts even now that our current official rate of unemployment could soar to 30 percent in the second quarter, with the GDP dropping 50 percent.
A blow of this magnitude could damage the economy for some time and impose severe stress on American workers. Now is a splendid time to start planning for immigration restriction.