BLS May Report: Weaker than Anticipated; March, April Revisions Down, Bombshell in Footnotes

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By Joe Guzzardi

Joe is a CAPS Senior Writing Fellow whose commentaries about California's social issues have run in newspapers throughout California and the country for nearly 30 years. Contact Joe at joeguzzardi@capsweb.org, or find him on Twitter @joeguzzardi19.

The writer's views are his own.

June 2, 2017

As the Bureau of Labor Statistics reported, in May, only 138,000 jobs were created, fewer than Wall Street’s estimated 185,000. According to Fox Business News, in a pre-release poll of 100,000 economists, the lowest predicted jobs total was 140,000. Coming in 2,000 jobs lower than the most pessimistic estimate proves how bad the May report is.

More bad news: March totals were revised down from 79,000 to 50,000, and April was lowered from 211,000 to 174,000, a net loss of 66,000 jobs. With the revisions, the last three months average new job creation was 121,000, not enough to keep up with population growth and the roughly two million annual work-authorized legal immigrants, and guest workers.

Jobs in freefall.

Finally, the bombshell: full-time jobs fell off the cliff, a 367,000 plunge, taking with it health insurance, paid vacations, and retirement benefits, once commonly included in employment packages.

Other statistics in the May report were mostly unchanged from previous months, and therefore equally disappointing. The labor force participation rate declined 0.2 percent to 62.7 percent, and the unemployment rate dipped to 4.3 percent.

The May report with its weak job creation totals is a warning shot to President Trump to tighten employment markets by lowering immigration and cutting guest worker visas.

On guest worker limitations, there’s at least a modicum of good news. Department of Homeland Security Secretary John Kelly, an earlier proponent of the cheap labor H-2B visa, said through his spokesman that the department is now studying the wisdom of importing unskilled foreign labor guest workers.

Near unanimity exists on employers’ deceitfulness when they claim that Americans can’t be found to work in seasonal industries. The reliably pro-immigration New York Times’ editorial board wrote that employers’ shortage claims “don’t stand up” to scrutiny.

From its 2016 editorial: “When labor is scarce, unemployment falls and wages rise. But unemployment is high in all of the top H-2B fields, which include landscaping, grounds keeping, construction, hospitality and seafood processing, while wages in those fields have long been flat or declining.” The New York Times analysis is simple Economics 101 that Secretary Kelly should rely on as he makes his final decision.

In his statement to the Senate Appropriations Committee, Secretary Kelly showed he is fully aware of the abuses some employers inflict on their H-2B visa workers when he said: “…many, many of these individuals are victimized when they come up here, in terms of what they’re paid and all the rest of it….” Watch Secretary Kelly’s testimony here.

For Americans, jobs remain the primary issue. President Trump has been disappointingly quiet on E-Verify which would help ensure that only citizens and legally authorized workers hold jobs. Go to the CAPS Action Alert page here to tell your Senate to support S 179, mandatory E-Verify legislation.

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