Good June Bureau of Labor Statistics Report – Except for the Fine Print

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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.

July 8, 2016

At first blush, the June Bureau of Labor Statistics report looked decent. Last month, the economy created 287,000 jobs. But analysts’ excitement over the higher-than-anticipated total vanished immediately when the May jobs figure was revised downward from an already low 38,000 to a microscopic 11,000. The two month May-June average is a humdrum 150,000, below the 2014 and 2015 levels.

There are now more unemployed working-age males
at any time since 1954.

Enthusiasm waned further when reporters broke down the job specifics. Low-paying leisure and hospitality led the way with 59,000 jobs added, while health care and social services rose by 58,000, and information services increased by 44,000. Only a handful of jobs in these sectors pay well, and many are part-time which kept June’s average wages nearly flat at $25.61.

The all-important labor participation rate also remained essentially unchanged at 62.7 percent. But the overall participation rate hides one of the most compelling tragedies in the U.S. employment crisis. For men in their prime working years between the ages of 25 and 54, June’s labor force participation rate stood at 88 percent compared to its 98 percent peak in 1954.

In its recent report, the White House Council of Economic Advisors found that worldwide the U.S. has the third lowest prime-age male working participation rate, barely edging out Israel and Italy.

A Washington Post story that covered the CEA report mentioned several factors that may have created the troubling increases in unemployed men at a time in their lives when their earning ability should be at its peak. The possible causes the Post cited include more working women, Social Security Disability Insurance that lures men away from the job market, automation and the ripple effect that’s displaced low-earning workers when men are laid off from good jobs and forced to seek lesser ones.

Other than a passing reference to outsourcing, the Post didn’t mention immigration, one of the most important contributors to American job loss. Center for Immigration Studies research based on published government data showed that since 2000 the total net gain in employed, working-age (16 to 65) people has gone to legal and illegal immigrants even though during that period native-born Americans accounted for two-thirds of the total working-age population growth.

From the CIS report: legal and illegal immigrants holding a job increased 5.7 million from the first quarter of 2000 to the first quarter of 2014, while American job holders declined by 127,000 during the same period. These figures, apparently unworthy of mention in the Post story, are the direct result of not only outsourcing but also of two decades or more of federal immigration autopilot policy that’s added an average of one million work-authorized legal immigrants annually, along with hundreds of thousands of guest workers and tens of thousands of illegal immigrant laborers.

Simply put – too much immigration, too many employment-based visas, too much outsourcing with too little thought about the hurtful effect on American workers and the national fabric. Please join the CAPS Action Alert team here to pressure Congress for sensible, sustainable immigration.
 

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