Omnibus, Obama’s Work-Permits-for-All Madness Dwarf December BLS Tedium

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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 8, 2016

The biggest recent economic news isn’t the December jobs report as reported by the Bureau of Labor Statistics. Americans have long ago grown used to the consistently tepid reports, and the happy-face hype that invariably accompanies them.

Instead, the literally breathtaking news is the continuous, malicious undermining of the American worker by President Obama and Congress. First, the Omnibus bill passed in December will fund refugee resettlement in general and specifically the 10,000 Syrians who will immediately qualify for work permits. Omnibus also could quadruple the annual cap of 66,000 on H-2B visas for nonagricultural seasonal workers.

Another wave of “guest” workers coming to fill nonexistent shortages.
Another wave of “guest” workers coming to fill nonexistent shortages.

This all while analysis from the Center for Immigration Studies found that no low-skilled labor shortage exists and that a large increase in H-2Bs hurts America’s most vulnerable black, Hispanic and white workers. BuzzFeed ran an important, must-read H-2B expose, “The Coyote,” concluding that Americans have no idea that the H-2B visa exists, “but one major constituency champions it: American business, which prizes the steady supply of cheap and pliant labor.” If given the opportunity, most Americans would eagerly do many of these jobs for cooks, maintenance workers and construction help that will now go to H-2Bs.

Second, Obama’s latest executive action would fast-track thousands of work permits to green card applicants even if they are in the United States illegally. Deceptively titled “Modernizing the Employment-Based Immigration System,” Obama’s plan is an outrageous assault on employed and unemployed Americans. Even nonimmigrants who have expired visas would be allowed to legally remain in the country and work. The list of foreign nationals who will benefit is long and ugly. Read it here. If implemented, Obama’s proposal would put huge pressure on an already weak labor market.

For those who still pay attention to it, BLS reported the following, familiar data in its December report: the economy created 292,000 jobs, above expectations but with many of them low-paying. Wages remained in a decades-long rut, dropping one cent to $25.24, and the labor participation rated ticked up to 62.6 percent in December from the prior month’s 62.5 percent, still however at depressed levels not seen since the 1970s.

The headline, manipulated unemployment rate is stuck at 5 percent, while the more honest U-6 employment rose to 9.8 percent from last month’s 9.6 percent. Want to talk manipulation? An employed person could be, as BLS defines employment, someone who earns $1.00 an hour for one hour’s weekly work as a dog walker.

Please fight for American workers. Go to this federal website and the CAPS Action Alert to object to Obama’s plan to flood the U.S. labor market with overseas workers.

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