Long term unemployment rises; immigration exacerbates unemployed americans’ plight

Published on February 19th, 2013

A recent CAPS homepage story focused on under-reported data concerning long term unemployment which has reached its highest level since World War II. [Long Term Unemployment at Highest Level since World War II, by Keith Koffler,  White House Dossier, January 15, 2013]

During the last three recessions, the average unemployment period was 20 weeks; today, according to the St. Louis Federal Reserve, the duration has climbed to 40 weeks. The Obama administration, suggested reporter Keith Koffler, has exacerbated the long term unemployment problem by repeatedly (10 times since 2008) extending benefits to the jobless at an aggregate $500 billion cost. Last month, Congress passed legislation that would extend benefits through 2013.

Analysts at the Federal Reserve of Boston studied the Beveridge Curve, a graph that usually reflects an inverse curve between job vacancies and unemployment. Since 2009, however, the curve reflects a trend toward long term unemployment that gradually evolves into permanent unemployment. In short, those without a job for six months or less have the best chance of finding new employment. Those out of work for six months or longer, nearly 5 million Americans, have increasingly diminished prospects to be rehired.

The Bureau of Labor Statistics released the following data for the long-term unemployed in 2012: 4.8 million out of work for 27 weeks and 3.4 million of them unemployed for a year or longer. [Millions of Long Term Unemployed Face Losing Benefits in 2013, by Sudeep Reddy, Wall Street Journal, December 12, 2012]

Despite a plethora of grim unemployment statistics, legal immigration grinds on and may be poised  to worsen.  If Congress passes the much publicized amnesty, an estimated 11 million illegal immigrants will receive work authorization and enter the job market to compete with unemployed Americans. 

Research from the Center for Immigration Studies found evidence that documents the link between increased immigration and American unemployment. Since President Obama took office, 67 percent of employment growth has gone to legal and illegal immigrants. During the third quarter of 2012, there were 1.94 million more immigrants working than at the start of 2009. During the same period, native job increases totaled only 938,000. Immigrants registered employment gains in every labor market segment. In job sectors where immigrant gains were largest like health care, construction and maintenance, 2.2 million Americans were unemployed. 

CIS’ findings should be an integral part of the ongoing congressional amnesty debate and should also be included in the media’s reporting. The documented proof that amnesty and more legal immigration hurt Americans must not be suppressed.


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