Jobs Report Encouraging, but Trump Inaction on Employment-Based Visas Worrisome

By Joe Guzzardi
March 13, 2017
 
Wall Street hailed the February Bureau of Labor Statistics report which reflected a 235,000 job gain as a major Trump administration triumph. The payroll survey of corporations tallied those 235,000 new positions, but the alternate household survey is even more impressive, a resounding 447,000 jobs gain.
 
BLS explains the differences between the two surveys this way: The payroll survey samples workers in 400,000 establishments that are covered by unemployment insurance. The household survey includes responses from a 60,000 person sampling.
 
Regardless of which survey analysts drew from, other statistics in the February economy were impressive. In February, a record 152.5 million Americans held jobs which pushed the labor force participation rate up to 63 percent. Conversely, the number of Americans detached from the labor force declined to 91.2 million.
 
Strong and stronger monthly employment reports may soon become the norm. During his first weeks in office, President Trump met with many chief executive officers. As a result, Ford, Fiat-Chrysler, General Motors, Sprint, Softbank, Lockheed, Intel, Walmart and others pledged to invest billions of dollars in plant and equipment in the U.S. The result, said President Trump, “will create tens of thousands of new jobs.”
 
But as aggressive as President Trump has been on using his White House influence to lean on corporations to stay in the U.S. and to hire American, he’s oddly passive about cutting employment-based visas, specifically the H-1B, and ending deferred action for childhood arrivals, DACAs.
 
President Trump’s inaction on H-1Bs and DACAs stands in direct contrast to his campaign pledges to get tough on those specific visas. On his campaign website, President Trump wrote that the overseas worker influx “holds down salaries, keeps unemployment high, and makes it difficult for poor and working class Americans – including immigrants themselves and their children – to earn a middle class wage.…We need companies to hire from the domestic pool of unemployed.”
 
While stumping, then-candidate Trump said that his restrictive H-1B proposals would help black, Hispanic and female workers that Silicon Valley has ignored in favor of H-1Bs. Several high profile examples of H-1Bs replacing U.S. workers, including most prominently Disney, made national headlines, and angered Americans. Even though President Trump would be on safe ground if he were to cut the annual 85,000 H-1B allotment – a recent Politico/Consult poll taken among registered voters found that only 30 percent think that an H-1B worker does jobs Americans won’t – Press Secretary Sean Spicer said such reductions aren’t among the administration’s priorities.
 
Because it could be so easily ended, President Trump’s DACA inaction is an even greater puzzlement. With a simple memo, President Trump could order USCIS to neither accept new applications nor renew rollovers. President Trump repeatedly promised to immediately end DACA, legislation which Congress rejected multiple times. DACA, which has given about 750,000 illegal aliens work permission, diminishes the already challenging employment prospects for recent college graduates. Because of his failure to deliver on DACA, President Trump’s honeymoon period has, for many of his supporters, ended.
 
Each employed visa holder, whether H-1Bs, DACAs or any of the dozens of employment-based visas, takes a job that would otherwise go to an American. If President Trump wants to make good on his vow to put America first and make it great again, he must slash employment-based visas. H-1B and DACA are excellent starting points.
 

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Joe Guzzardi is a Senior Writing Fellow with Californians for Population Stabilization. Contact him at joeguzzardi@capsweb.org or on Twitter @joeguzzardi19.

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