Bad Bureau of Labor Statistics September Report---Minus 33,000 Jobs

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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.

October 6, 2017
hurricane
Hurricanes Irma, one of three storms blamed for weak September jobs report.
Going into the Bureau of Labor Statistics release of it September jobs data, Wall Street was widely undecided about what the totals would show. The biggest question was whether the three hurricanes, Harvey, Irma and Maria, would render the final job totals as misleading -- "Hurricane-Disrupted" is the term economists coined. Pre-release estimates for new job creation ranged from plus 153,000 to a negative 45,000.

The pessimists projected correctly: the economy lost 33,000 jobs, the first payroll decline since 2010. Some bright spots appeared, however. Most notably, in September, average hourly earnings rose by 0.5 percent month over month while on an annual basis, the increase was 2.9 percent. And the labor participation rate rose from 62.9 percent to 63.1 percent.

Job scarcity, weather-related or not, is increasingly challenging for American workers. Yet Congress refuses to pass mandatory E-Verify legislation that would open up many of those hard-to-find jobs that unauthorized foreign-born workers currently hold. An estimated 8.1 million illegal aliens hold jobs, many of them in manufacturing, construction and the service industries.

Instead of focusing on protecting American workers, Congress is obsessed with passing amnesty that would have the opposite effect---millions of employment authorization documents for illegal immigrants that would allow them to work legally, and displace U.S. citizens. But, encouragingly, the latest update in the continuously evolving amnesty saga indicates that none of the four bills before Congress that offer work authorization and permanent residency are going anywhere without enforcement provisions.

In his opening statement at the October 3rd Senate Judiciary Committee’s hearing convened to deliberate President Trump’s decision to end deferred action on childhood arrivals, Chairman Chuck Grassley (R-IA) said: “we’ve got to make sure any deal [on DACA] includes meaningful interior enforcement. The simplest, most common sense way to ensure that we eliminate the root causes of illegal immigration is to make the E-Verify system mandatory for all employers.” The White House has thrown its support behind tougher enforcement.

A Federation for American Immigration Reform study released earlier this year found that most of the 15 states that mandated E-Verify since the 2008 recession ended have experienced a steady drop in the U-6 unemployment rate when compared to the national average. BLS defines U-6 as workers marginally attached to the labor force, and part-time employees who would like to work full-time, generally considered to be the most vulnerable Americans.

Yet despite E-Verify’s proven success and its popularity among Americans, the program has made little progress in Congress since its implementation. Grassley’s bill, S 179, needs your support. Since its introduction in January, the bill only has 11 Republican cosponsors. Go to the CAPS Action Alert page here to tell your senators that on employment, Americans come first.
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