New National Employment Law Project research found that even though the official Bureau of Labor Statistics unemployment rate is back down to near-prerecession levels, 6.1 percent in July, Americans feel increasingly poor. The reason, which CAPS has reported on before, is that the new jobs are mostly low-paying, while higher paying jobs are increasingly scarce. There are now 2.3 million more low-paid workers and 1.2 million fewer jobs in mid- and higher-pay range industries than before the recession began.
Consequently, from 2009 through 2013 real median hourly wages have dropped across all income levels and occupations. Workers in the lowest income bracket ($8.84 to $10.85) and the highest ($31.40 to $86.34) saw their take-home pay, after adjusted for inflation, decline.
One constant since 2009 that’s adversely affected the labor market for American workers is federal immigration policy. The ongoing congressional debate about whether an amnesty would be good for the economy rarely mentions that the U.S. has a liberal immigration policy that admits nearly 70,000 legal, work-authorized permanent residents monthly. On top of that, according to State Department 2012 statistics, approximately 700,000 guest workers received visas in 12 different categories. That’s a total of more than 1.5 million new workers admitted to the U.S. last year alone. No intelligent argument could deny that huge immigration levels that continue on autopilot year after year weaken the American job market.
President Obama is apparently determined to issue an executive amnesty to at least five million aliens, and thousands of Central Americans are poised to receive asylum. Since both groups will get work permits, Americans hoping to get a job or keep the one they have will face ever-greater challenges.