Last Pre-Election BLS Report is Spectacularly Underwhelming

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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.

November 4, 2016

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.

There are fewer jobs for Americans when these visa-dependent companies bring in foreign workers.

The discredited unemployment rate dipped to 4.9 percent, while the labor force participation rate dropped a tenth of a point to 62.8 percent. The employment-population ratio, 59.7 percent, remained steady. Overall, 94.6 million Americans are detached from the labor force, the second highest number on record. Decades of stagnant wages have forced 9 million men to the sidelines. As one of them said, employers can’t expect to recruit adults when they pay teenagers’ wages.

The discouraging details from the BLS report are widely available, but here are two less publicized variables that have harmed American workers. First, the Pew Research Center found that 8 million illegal aliens worked in the U.S. in 2014. While many work in agriculture, others hold jobs in construction, leisure and hospitality which many unemployed Americans would eagerly sign up for.

Second, the Center for Immigration Studies produced a map (see graphic) that shows the states where H-1B visa holders are most likely to be employed. Many employers like Disney and Southern California Edison have fired Americans, sent them to the unemployment lines and replaced them with H-1B visa holders. The map identifies the location of H-1B dependent companies, firms with more than 25 employees which have 15 percent or more visa holders.

With legal and illegal immigration surging, and automation taking a bigger bite out of the employment market, protecting American workers is increasingly crucial. Go to the CAPS Action Alert page here which offers pro-active opportunities to interact with your representative to reject job-killing TPP, support E-Verify and end H-1B visa abuse.

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