July Bureau of Labor Statistics Report Beats Expectations, but Belie Need for More Overseas Workers

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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.

August 4, 2017
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Automation, pictured here at Amazon, eliminates the need
for low-skilled immigration; Support the RAISE Act.
On job creation, President Trump is, despite his claims to the contrary, doing about the same as President Obama. President Trump likes to call the Bureau of Labor Statistics jobs numbers “great,” but they’re consistent with the previous administration’s pattern---give or take 200,000 monthly with too many in the part-time service sector.

Today, the BLS reported that in July the economy created 209,000 jobs, ahead of the 180,000 Wall Street predicted. Unemployment and the labor force participation rates remained mostly unchanged at, respectively, 4.3 percent and 62.9 percent. Hourly earnings rose nine cents to $26.36.
Food and drinking sectors, table-waiting and serving cocktails, added the most jobs, 53,000, many of them part-time. Employment in higher earning sectors like construction, manufacturing, and warehousing, however, remained flat.

Looking at the long-term, as automation gets more specialized; the next generation of blue collar workers (today’s high school graduates) will face a tough road. There will be fewer jobs available to them.

Amazon, for example, has 45 robots in 20 distribution centers that move bins stocked with products to humans who then select, pack and ship the ordered item. But Amazon is researching ways to rid itself of what it considers the too expensive, too unreliable, too needy human element. Three years ago, the company launched a challenge among robotic researchers to find ways to displace the remaining 230,000 humans in Amazon’s warehouses.

With robotics growing presence, the need for low-skilled immigration is obsolete. And with millions of working-age Americans detached from the labor force, admitting one million-plus legal, employment- authorized workers annually creates excessive job competition for increasingly scarce jobs.

The RAISE Act, introduced earlier this week by Sens. Tom Cotton (R-AR) and David Perdue (R-GA), if passed, would represent the biggest boost to American workers in the last 50 years. Robotics eliminates the need for low-skilled immigration, one of RAISE’s goals. With millions of Americans detached from the labor force, cutting the total of work-authorized legal immigrants in half to about 500,000, another RAISE objective, is consistent with today’s technology-advancing economy.

Senate Republicans and Democrats are lined up against RAISE. California Senator Dianne Feinstein Republican, who represents the state that immigration most dramatically affects, and South Carolina Republican Lindsey Graham, a Gang of Eight immigration advocate, predicted that RAISE would devastate their agriculture industries.

Feinstein made the age-old, long ago debunked claim that, if RAISE became law, no one would pick crops. But RAISE doesn’t restrict or even mention H-2 visas, a main source of ag labor.

If nothing else, RAISE has already generated an immigration policy debate. Supporters of continued low-skilled immigration like Feinstein and Graham will try to make their indefensible case. But advocates of more sensible lower immigration levels that RAISE proposes must weigh in, too.

Please go to the CAPS Action Alert page here to tell your Senators to support RAISE, and to put Americans workers first.
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