CAPS — For skeptics of the monthly Bureau of Labor Statistics jobs report, July provided plenty of fodder. Superficially, the numbers looked good, and were better than predicted: the economy added 255,000 jobs, more than Wall Street’s anticipated 180,000.
But the sub rosa picture is ugly. More than 75 percent of the new jobs are in the service sector, meaning they pay little and include many part-time jobs in the hospitality and health care sectors. Many jobs created in the summer months are, by definition, temporary. Wages increased .08 cents per hour, a figure analysts touted but pro-rated over July’s 34.5 average hours worked translates to $2.76 cents – gross income before applicable taxes!
Furthermore, more than 94 million Americans remain detached from the labor force, 55 million of them in the prime employment years of age 16 to 64. The true U-6 unemployment rate is an unacceptably high 9.7 percent, significantly worse than July’s official, “big lie” 4.9 percent.
Among those fortunate enough to have a job, 25 million are foreign-born. They’re the legal and illegal immigrants that candidates in the presidential and congressional November elections either want more or fewer of. But adding more immigrants to an economy that already has 25 million foreign nationals in the labor market at the same time 94 million Americans are on the sideline doesn’t make any sense.
What’s missing in the great immigration debate that dominates this election cycle is an intelligent discussion about what the effect has been of adding millions of work-authorized immigrants to the economy during the last two decades. Under the George W. Bush and Barack Obama immigration-friendly administrations, there are 14 million more American-born citizens not employed since the year 2000. More hurtful to unemployed and under-employed Americans, since Obama took office, the population of working-age foreign-born residents has increased by 6 million and those with jobs has grown by 4.5 million.
The pro-immigration argument claims that adding tens of millions of overseas workers grows the economy. On its face, the statement is true, but more immigration doesn’t improve American lives. Research by Harvard economist George Borjas found high immigration mainly benefits the immigrants themselves and redistributes wealth from American workers to the elites that profit from cheap labor.
Pledges to pass comprehensive immigration reform or to increase refugee resettlement must include an analysis of how adding still more employment-authorized foreign nationals would help struggling Americans (it wouldn’t).