Job Growth Still Not Keeping Up with Population Increases

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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.

January 27, 2016
Millions more work authorized immigrants to enter 2016 labor pool.

Despite enthusiastic headlines about the recovering American economy, job growth is only treading water. At no time during 2015 did the Bureau of Labor Statistics employment-to-population ratio for working age Americans exceed 60 percent. In 2005, it was higher than 62.4 in all 12 months of the year, and in August topped out at 62.9 percent.

Even the staunchest immigration advocates can’t make a rational argument that the U.S. economy needs more workers when Americans lucky enough to have a job are stuck in part-time, low-paying employment. Moreover, the most recent BLS report released January 8 showed that in November and December 2015 American-born residents lost 320,000 jobs, while jobs held by foreign-born residents increased 306,000.

The reaction from the White House and Congress to the deep unemployment and wage hole American workers are struggling to climb out from is predictable:

  1. The Omnibus bill signed in December could quadruple H-2B visas, and bring as many as 264,000 new low-wage workers to the United States annually. Their presence in the labor pool will hurt African-Americans and other minorities.

  2. The same bill funds refugee resettlement for 10,000 work-authorized Syrians and Iraqis in 2016.

  3. Secretary of State John Kerry promised to accept “more” Central American refugees in addition to the 85,000 total refugees the U.S. is already committed to taking during fiscal 2016. All will receive employment authorization documents.

  4. In April, the Supreme Court will hear the case against President Obama’s deferred action for illegal immigrant parents of American citizens that could result in as many as 5 million aliens getting work permits.

As if a continuous stream of newly work-authorized immigrants isn’t threatening enough for unemployed or under-employed Americans, there’s this discouraging Computer World observation: drones are here to stay, and will eventually displace those hard-working UPS and FedEx drivers. The only question, Computer World suggests, is whether consumers want the drones just to deliver the food to consumers’ doorstep or to cook it too.

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