Here in Pittsburgh, we don’t have much immigration. As I sit writing this blog post, I’m trying to remember the last time I heard a language other than English spoken around me. I can’t recall. The jobs that legal and illegal immigrants so often fill in California and other immigrant-heavy states are, in Pittsburgh, almost exclusively done by Americans.
President-elect Donald Trump’s repeated promises to create jobs, and bring unemployed and under-employed Americans back into the fold resonated strongly with disenfranchised voters, and helped put him in the White House.
Analysts hoped that the October economy would have generated 175,000 new jobs. The actual number the Bureau of Labor Statistics reported was even less inspiring, 161,000 of the usual low-paying, part-time jobs. Changed little over the past month was employment in major industries, including mining, construction, manufacturing, wholesale trade, retail trade and transportation.
At a one-day conference in Pittsburgh called the White House Frontiers Conference, President Barack Obama announced that he will allocate more than $300 million in federal and private funds to support science and technology. The total will include about $165 million for so-called smart city initiatives like reducing traffic congestion.
The September Bureau of Labor Statistics jobs report announced that the economy generated 156,000 new jobs, fewer than the 176,000 Wall Street analysts had predicted. About 7.9 million Americans are unemployed, which the Labor Department said is a little-changed statistic over the year. From month to month, the BLS reports are a monotonous litany of poor economic growth and dismal job creation.
U.S. workers took another hit this week when Fortune 500 giant Caterpillar announced that it will fire 300 U.S. employees, and replace them with foreign-born H-1B visa holders. Caterpillar, an American corporate icon, is the latest but certainly will not be the last to displace Americans in the pursuit of cheaper, but less skilled, labor.
This summer, my granddaughter had a part-time job as a cashier at a large box store retailer. Last month, before she left for college, I told her – kidding on the square – that her cashier’s job may be the best one she’ll ever have even after she earns her diploma.
One of the first things a student of economics learns is the law of supply and demand. It affirms – all other factors being equal – the price of an item will rise if the demand for it increases, or if the supply of it decreases. The wages of workers are one example. If demand for their labor increases, their price (wages) will rise. Also, their price (wages) will go up if their numbers decline.