Explain to Me Again Why We Need More Unskilled Labor

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There can be little doubt that the elite media constitute a cheering squad for amnesty and mass immigration. But one outlet in particular, National Public Radio – perhaps the ne plus ultra of these pro-amnesty elites – can’t seem to get out of its own way. A month ago, NPR reporting on the dismal July unemployment numbers noted that “there [are]essentially too many people looking for work,” and that we have a long-term “oversupply of labor.”

NPR ended August where they began, by torpedoing the labor shortage justification for amnesty and more immigration – especially low-skilled immigration. Reporting on a nationwide effort to demand $15 an hour wages for fast food workers, Chris Arnold interviewed Kyle King, a 40-something Burger King employee in Boston, who started out at $8 an hour nine years ago and now rakes in $8.15 an hour. An average annual pay raise of 1.66 cents per hour ought to be a clue that we’re not in any danger of running out of burger flippers.

And it is not just fast food workers that the free market is telling us there is an ample supply. As Lawrence Katz, a Harvard labor economists, notes in the report, “80 percent of U.S. workers have not seen much of a raised in the 2000s.”

But NPR is not the only elite media outlet stepping all over the low-skill labor shortage justification for immigration increases. John Carney, a senior editor at CNBC, which specializes in reporting on business and economics, argues that the business lobby’s implausible claim that flooding the labor market with low-skilled immigrants is beneficial to low-skilled native workers is just that: implausible.

In a column on the CNBC website, Carney details how some economists are distorting a unique situation in Denmark to advocate for more cheap labor in the United States. Quoting economist Tyler Cowan, who observed that, “In a society of Einsteins, Einsteins take out the garbage, wash floors and scrub dishes,” Carney notes that an infusion of low-skilled labor frees up these geniuses to carry out their full potential. However, in the real world, the number of Einsteins swinging mops or working at Burger King instead of altering our understanding of the universe is pretty limited.

In the real world, flooding the labor market with immigrants who swing mops or flip burgers results in natives who swing mops or flip burgers being unemployed, or being forced to spend their adult lives working for $8 an hour.

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Ira joined the Federation for American Immigration Reform (FAIR) in 1986 with experience as a journalist, professor of journalism, special assistant to Gov. Richard Lamm (Colorado), and press secretary of the House Defense Appropriations Subcommittee. His columns have appeared in National Review, LA Times, NY Times, Washington Post, Newsweek, and more. He is an experienced TV and radio commentator.

42 Comments

  1. avatar
    cynthia curran on

    Most of the illegals would go back home if they didn’t get everything free!! That is what is drawing most of them here! NO MORE WELFARE for any illegal!!!
    Texan most illegals would leave your so-called conservative state if Rick Perry and gang didn’t let them in to do construction work in Houston and so forth.

  2. avatar

    Anyone see the hypocrisy in the SEIU funding the fast- food $15/hr wage increase fight and the SEIU support for immigration reform? How does bringing in double the levels of poor, low-skilled NEW immigrants help their cause? Why would Burger King need pay an employee $15 hr, then? The laws of supply and demand prevail. They cannot have it both ways.

    • avatar

      Aarona: Yes, that is the first thing that struck me about the story. Did they ALL fail Economics and Logic?

      Without the ability to pay “black market” wages and without the “social costs” subsidy, employers would end up paying the “real” cost of their labor and US citizens would be employed instead. This would increase wages toward a “living wage”.

      If you are in favor of a “living wage”, then you MUST be against high immigration of low-skilled workers. Otherwise, you are completely against all of the market and economic forces that drive the global economy.

      To put it simply: If you are trying to increase wages, it is absolute insanity to increase the supply of labor for that market.

  3. avatar
    Kathleen Davis on

    Unfortunately we will need more unskilled labor after amnesty. When all the illegals become legal, they will not want to work in unskilled low-paid jobs, but will take jobs away from Americans at the next level or above, leaving the farmers without labor to pick the crops, precipitating another wave of future amnesty seekers. We need to stop amnesty!

  4. avatar

    Most of the illegals would go back home if they didn’t get everything free!! That is what is drawing most of them here! NO MORE WELFARE for any illegal!!!

  5. avatar
    cynthia curran on

    Only four states, New York, California, Texas, and Florida, plus Washington, DC have inequality above the national average of .39, indicating both their very large populations, their very complex ethnicity, and large metropolitan economies rich in high income earners, entrenched concentrations of poverty, and high levels of immigration. Surprisingly, these states are even more unequal than the poorest states with the most difficult racial history and delayed development: Mississippi, Alabama, Arkansas, and Louisiana.
    Guess what, these states have more illegal immigrants than all the other states, who is the most unequal.

  6. avatar

    And it is not just fast food workers that the free market is telling us there is an ample supply. As Lawrence Katz, a Harvard labor economists, notes in the report, “80 percent of U.S. workers have not seen much of a raised in the 2000s.”
    Maybe, it has to do with guest worker president George W Bush, who wanted all fields to be open to guest workers.

      • avatar
        Frank Mitchell on

        Emmet: Let’s just expand that a little. BOTH Parties (& Presidents) were bought off by the Corporate Elite.
        Remember the “Immigration Reform & Control Act” of 1986. Also known as the “one-time-only” Reagan Amnesty.

        How did the promised enforcement part of that compromise work out? Oh right, it was gutted by BOTH parties as they accepted contributions (bribes) from the corporate elite. Well the elite certainly got their money’s worth since the 80’s.

        Fix & fully implement E-Verify. Fine and imprison employers who employ illegal aliens. Deport illegal aliens quickly, humanely and efficiently. Enforce the LAW!

        • avatar
          Johnn Winthropp on

          So Frank…..you should know this is the way it has been since the country was founded,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,so where is your accountability on this?………….do nothing so far?….or your ancestry if any, did anything ever?

          • avatar

            John: So you failed History in addition to Economics, Business and Logic. Did you even graduate High School? If you understood US history, you would know that the country (like most countries) has modified its immigration numerous times. There have been periods of very immigration and others of relatively high immigration. My personal accountability is for pushing to have our immigration laws passed and enforced. I also refuse to hire people in the country illegally, even for house cleaning or yard work. My ancestral background is Cherokee and European (50/50).

            We are a nation of LEGAL immigrants, not illegal aliens. We are a nation of laws not anarchy.

            Fix & fully implement E-Verify. Fine and imprison employers who employ illegal aliens. Deport ALL illegal aliens quickly, humanely and efficiently. Enforce the LAW!

  7. avatar
    Michael McGregor on

    We do NOT need any Immigration Reform!!!! It worked perfectly well when my grandparents came over here in the 1920’s; it works well now… So when something works – DON”T change IT!!!! The only reason many illegal immigrants are crying for change is because they are too lazy to deal with the system like all the other people are!!!!! If anyone wants to be a citizen of this country, let them follow the law – like everyone else!!!!!

  8. avatar
    cynthia curran on

    Cynthia $4 in Mexico has a lot more purchasing power there than $10 does in the United States.

    Reply
    That’s truth, particularly compared to making 10 per hr in Los Angeles or Orange County.

  9. avatar

    So I’m at work today in the Social Security Office and I have yet another aha moment as a young hispanic comes in with his mother and I ask him if he is applying for a social security card and he says “yes, dream act”. Every time I see an administration policy or executive order that seeks to circumvent the will of the people through their elected representatives, there seems to be an influx of young hispanics in the office. Obama is simply buying the hispanic vote to ensure an end to our centuries old system of checks and balances. The democrats will then have a lock and this country will be run into the ground with a one-sided agenda because half the country will be getting government money and the rest of their super-majority will be made up of those who have been paid off by amnesty or other special interest incentives.

    • avatar

      Yes Obrien

      I had recent business at the SSA office in the Seattle area. The term SSN has an equivalent foreign worker “SSN replacement” number. The video news is presented in Spanish before English [the secondary SSA language now?].

      • avatar

        yeah, everywhere you go English is the last language on the list it is said that countries fall from within. A unified language is the key element glue of any country/society and the fact that English is fast becoming a secondary or less language in America is another billboard clue to our demise.

    • avatar
      Johnn Winthropp on

      SO Obrien we do it the American way….and the FAIR way……the SS goes ahead and freezes all monies paid by illegals…….that means if any was put in your SS Obrien is taking away from you because it does not belong to you and IT GOES TO OURS VETS……..

  10. avatar

    There was a pro immigration reform a.k.a. amnesty rally held by a local farm workers union this weekend. Some of the participants were interviewed by the local media. Their rationale for supporting immigration reform goes as follows : 1) The illegals are already here and they are currently undercutting American workers since they do not pay taxes. 2) by giving the illegals a path to citizenship this forces them to pay taxes and are therefore less able to work for as cheap wages thus somewhat leveling the playing field with American workers for these jobs.

  11. avatar

    This is one reason why the right supports a lot of guest workers, mentally retarded or slow learners could do most of the lower service jobs but the Republican party that opposes the welfare state doesn’t not want to support people that work part time to full time with low pay like the Mentally Retarded that qualify for Social Security disability and food stamps or the slow learners who could get section 8 and food stamps instead they prefer immigrants from Mexico or Central America that live with another family to afford the rent and pay the food bills that will not quality for section 8 and food stamps. However, the immigrant family will have more kids which means more kids on free and reduce lunch programs.

    • avatar
      John Winthropp on

      Cynthia you should listen to yourself when you say ” mentally retarded or slow learners could do most of the lower service jobs” you think you are better than all the illegals?……I personally doubt that………I think your mentality is obsolete and not that of an American…not at least the one that will make this country great in the future…..that is for sure!!

      • avatar

        hey John Winthrop…..Cynthia may/may not be” better” than the illegals.. but what she IS an they are NOT is LEGAL!!! and her take on who can, or should, fill service jobs is not off the mark. Add breed like flies welfare mommas to her list!! At least her “descriptions” of population types are AMERICAN CITIZENS who deserve whatever chance they may have. Illegals are nothing but criminals just by the fact they are ILLEGAL!!!

        • avatar
          Johnn Winthropp on

          Kmcl,……..educated yourself and see what is the biggest demograpohics of our WELFARE system …..they are our own……………not the illegals,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,by now if you watch TV you must have seen many caught already and do not work………

  12. avatar
    cynthia curran on

    Illegal immigrants that came here as kids and being deported are landing in Cal Center jobs in Mexico, they pay 4 per hr but lots of jobs by illegal immigrants in the United States are between 7.25 to 10 per hr which is not great money if you live in Los Angeles or Orange County Ca. The dreamers are helping to create a call center job market for Mexico since they have less accent when they speak English and many know Spanish as well and finished high school here which is higher education level than than counterparts in Mexico Mexico is the next India or Philippines for Call Center jobs, along with car manufacturing and manufacturing in general and Call Center work, Mexico doesn’t need to export its people anymore.

    • avatar

      “…finished high school here which is higher education level than than counterparts in Mexico.” This statement is absolutely UNTRUE. As a matter of fact, the reverse is true … the higher educational level is in MEXICO. Not the American schools in Mexico…the MEXICAN schools. (American schools in Mexico are behind)

      Our family lived there for a few years, and, when we returned, my three children were at least a year, if not more, AHEAD of the classes here. I had little choice if I didn’t want them to lose interest by repeating their lessons…I had to put them in private school.

      Luckily I was able to afford to do so or it would have created some serious problems..

      • avatar
        Frank Mitchell on

        Steph: Please provide legitimate links for your “opinion”. The Pew Hispanic Center disagrees with your “opinion”.

        Where do you get your information? If they were highly skilled they would be able to enter the US legally. Illegal aliens typically have not completed High School.

        “Among Mexican-born immigrants ages 25 and older, 60% have less than a high school education, compared with a fifth (21%) of other immigrants.” Compare that to the approximately 10% of US citizens without a high school diploma. Link: (see pg 37) http://www.pewhispanic.org/files/2012/04/Mexican-migrants-report_final.pdf

        Foreign nationals (legal & illegal) from Mexico ARE poorer and less educated. According to the Pew Hispanic Center, the US has 11.2 million illegal aliens, over 80% are Hispanic (58% are from Mexico). AND “Compared with other immigrants to the U.S., Mexican-born immigrants are younger, poorer, less-educated, less likely to be fluent in English and less likely to be naturalized citizens”.

        Which group do you think will be “Net-Tax Producers” and which will be Net-Tax Consumers”?

        • avatar

          So, Frank, you just typed something we already knew and which has been written about before: America is the Cure for Mexico’s Poverty Problem! My goodness, this has been going on for quite awhile.

          • avatar

            Baron: If you have a better reply to Steph’s comment. Please post it under his comment.

            Sorry, if you are looking for original never before discussed solutions here in the Comment Thread. Maybe you should look elsewhere. I must have missed the originality displayed in your comment.

            In the meantime:
            Fix & fully implement E-Verify. Fine and imprison employers who employ illegal aliens. Deport ALL illegal aliens quickly, humanely and efficiently. Enforce the LAW!

  13. avatar

    It is a question that can be answered partially……………….for instance the agriculture side,,,,,,as you probably already know,,,2/3 of the working force is illegal………………………….without going into the details of how this happened……that is a powerful reason why………..

    • avatar

      You’ve already been told that there is a visa program for agricultural workers available to farmers, but you keep repeating the same thing. The farmers are just not using it.

      • avatar

        So you are saying that there 750 thousand visas available? r u sure you understood my feedback?

        • avatar
          Frank Mitchell on

          John: What part of UNLIMITED “temporary worker” H-2A Visas do you find difficult to understand?

          Unlimited as in NO LIMIT on visas. Farmers just do not want to pay legal wages and take even minimal responsibility for their temporary workers.

          The US has millions of legal immigrants and low-skill citizens that could do those jobs if the farmer was willing to pay the Legal Market Wage. Instead you advocate for “cheap” taxpayer subsidized ($5/hour) illegal labor.

          You must be financially benefiting from the plight of the illegal aliens and low-skilled legal workers.

          • avatar

            I believe you are correct again, Frank. If memory serves, the Ag sector, as well as the Construction sector, had the proviso that there be no caps. The Govt implodes the entire construction industry, it has yet to retain a toehold back in the economy, & these pigs are already rigging the system that no American worker can either return to his job or get a career going in construction, for they are gonna flood the market again with these special visa workers.

    • avatar

      hey John Winthrop….You are likely right about the percentage of illegals doing the farm work in this country. Contrary to farmers reports and popular opinion..it is NOT because Americans wont do these jobs. Americans shun ag jobs because that industry works people 16 hours a day for low pay, no overtime, no benefits, and for the most dangerous working conditions in existence, next to mining….while the factory farmer/rancher lives in luxury. Pay AMERICANS fair wages and benefits, maintain OHSHA safety standards, with normal shift work hours, which may mean hiring more workers… oh well…and Americans will do the work. As long as this industry can get away with plantation labor, nothing will change, and no politician has the b—-s to confront and change this situation.

      • avatar
        Johnn Winthropp on

        Frank,,,,,you think one way only like some of our reps in congress already obdsolete……read, comprehend my feedback research the info I mentioned then…..comment………

        • avatar

          John: It is extremely humorous to read your reply, posted in the WRONG area, with advice on proper comment etiquette.

          Please use something resembling English sentence structure and include links if you want to provide additional information. Proper spelling would also help.

          As far as being obsolete, are you suggesting that the Immigration Laws of ALL countries are now obsolete? What are you basing that concept upon?

          Just because you do not like a law, does not make it obsolete.

    • avatar
      Frank Mitchell on

      John: Enough with that canard. Millions of legal residents are unemployed. You do realize that only 3% of illegal aliens work in agriculture? What about the other 97% (8 million)?

      Illegal aliens leave the fields as soon as they can manage to escape. Without the flood of illegal labor the farmers would be forced to improve wages and conditions. Doubling the farm wages would have minimal impact on grocery store food prices since labor is a very small portion of the cost.
      http://www.pewhispanic.org/files/reports/46.pdf (page 26)

      The farmers need to pay a legal wage or take advantage of the UNLIMITED H-2A visas available to them. They could double wages and only increase food costs by about 10%.
      I have no sympathy for criminal farmers.

      Yes, as long as we allow unlimited (legal & illegal) immigration wages will continue to be depressed. You only need to look at the wage stagnation/deflation of the trades heavily impacted by illegal aliens such as agriculture, construction and meat packing. Illegal aliens make up about 19% of the agricultural workforce. They are more than 27% of the construction drywall workers and have driven wages down significantly.

      • avatar

        Bravo again, my friend! I lived in Farm Country — twice. These “poor farmers” live off that cheap labor, get their seeds/fertilizer for free, get subsidized to keep fields fallow, on and on and on, yet they *****, whine & moan at every turn. They vacation in Arizona in the winter. Then, when the developers come, flashing $$, they were more than happy to sell off that “family legacy” to head for warmer climes! Incidentally, many have purchased their own farmlands back for pennies on the dollar, cuz after they made big $$ by selling during the Housing Bubble, when it busted, they made a lowball offer to the Developers for the land that of course never got developed. Now, they just lease the fields out & use that same immigrant labor, while never having to step foot back in the state.
        Want to add something else, too. The city I am now in thinks that fresh immigrant faces will “revitalize” it and replace the younger, talented crowd who study at college, but then leave. So, they area is being flooded with eurotrash. No skills, but they sure are flocking for the bennies. In fact, the largest county hospitals informs us that they run straight there to sign up for their h/c program. Also, this is not just a brownskin problem. Look to the illegal asians out west as well as the brownies, the darkfaces in FL who overstay the visa, the Polish in the City of Chicago, etc. etc. etc. The media would have us all believe they are coming here, millionaires all, panting at the prospect of setting up businesses for Americans to work at. Bull!

      • avatar
        John Winthropp on

        Frank I have some news for you,,,,,,this also happens professionally ………..with immigrants and H1 visas……..or Dunking Donuts with the Indians DOING THE SAME TO OUR CITIZENS…..point aside/point being WE THE PEOPLE caused this problem now we have a problem with illegals again that are being abused “Civil Rights” SO about time for REAL immigration reform………………….

        • avatar

          John: Please take your medications. You are losing your rationality. Take some deep cleansing breaths.

          Illegal aliens have the civil right to be deported ASAP.

          Yes, I am very aware of the problems with the H-1B visa program. It has been widely abused to undercut skilled US citizens. This article is about Unskilled Labor.

          Fix & fully implement E-Verify. Fine and imprison employers who employ illegal aliens. Deport illegal aliens quickly, humanely and efficiently. Enforce the LAW!

          Strict enforcement of our existing Immigration Laws is the best (long & short term) method to end illegal alien abuse. It will also protect the wages and working conditions of US citizens.

      • avatar
        Johnn Winthropp on

        Frank enough with your canard = illiterate knowledge of our social/economical/immigration…..isssue

        • avatar

          John: I have a Master’s Degree from Haas, School of Business, UC Berkeley as well as a BS in Engineering Science (also Berkeley). I speak Japanese and German with small amount of Spanish. My mother is Cherokee.

          Tell me about your educational level and how much you care about the low-income US citizens that are hurt by the flood of illegal aliens.

          If you wish to debate Economics or Mathematics with me, you will lose.