August Labor Report Not a Pretty Picture, with Uglier Long-Term Implications

Published on September 12th, 2016

By Joe Guzzardi
September 12, 2016
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On its face, the Bureau of Labor Statistics’ August report reflected just how terrible today’s job market is. The report concluded the economy created only 151,000 nonfarm payroll jobs last month, 30,000 less than Wall Street projected.

It was the 10th month in the last 13 that analysts have missed their mark.

As has now become routine with the monthly BLS reports, low-paying, tip-dependent restaurant and bar jobs gained while remaining flat or declining were better-paying construction, transportation and manufacturing jobs that might offer benefits.

More discouraging news for working family heads: wages increased a measly 0.1 percent and the labor participation rate is stuck at a historically low 62.8 percent. Despite nearly $3 trillion spent on President Barack Obama’s ill-conceived stimulus program, which he promised would create jobs but didn’t, too many Americans can’t find employment that will earn a living wage.

The headline BLS data — so-called because it’s based on the payroll survey the mainstream media report on — is frightening enough. But the less publicized household survey tells a more troubling and potentially irreversible story that could doom millions of Americans to a low-wage future.

Because the household survey contains demographic statistics, learning immigrant employment totals can be ferreted out from the report.

In August, household survey employment rose 97,000, up 0.06 percent from July. Breaking down the net 97,000 increase: native-born American employment fell by 177,000, a 0.14 percent decline, while foreign-born immigrant employment rose by 274,000, up 1.06 percent.

Going back to the Obama administration’s earliest days, immigrant employment has increased five times faster than native-born American employment, an increase of 20.6 percent for foreign-born versus 4.1 percent for Americans.

In February 2009, Obama’s first full month in office, nearly 15 percent of all those working in the United States were foreign-born, in contrast with the 17.2 percent foreign-born share in August 2016, the highest month among Obama’s 7½-year administration.

Understandably, immigration has affected lower-skilled Americans to a greater degree than it has college-educated professionals.

In its examination of immigrant employment trends, the Center for Immigration Studies found that the BLS’ American Time Use Survey showed that labor-force dropout by men in their prime working years — ages 25 to 54 — has been especially severe among native-born Americans without a high school degree.

Native-born high school dropouts worked the equivalent of only 35 full-time weeks per year during the 2003-2015 period while immigrant dropouts worked 49 equivalent weeks.

Skeptics may wonder how such a significant and consistent American worker displacement could have occurred. For the answer, look to autopilot federal immigration policy.

During the last two decades, an average of 1 million legal, work-authorized immigrants have joined the economy yearly regardless of its overall health. Even the devastating mortgage meltdown, which cost workers 8.7 million jobs, didn’t slow immigration.

Add to legal immigration about 750,000 more annual guest workers who come to perform jobs Americans allegedly won’t do, and there’s one explanation for today’s jobs crisis.

The economy cannot absorb or sustain 1 million legal, employment-authorized immigrants year after year without displacing U.S. workers, something that's crystal-clear to most Americans, but not to the Obama administration.

Nevertheless, despite unchecked immigration's threat to Americans, it continues unabated.

— Joe Guzzardi is a senior writing fellow for Californians for Population Stabilization (CAPS)who now lives in Pittsburgh. He can be reached at [email protected], or follow him on Twitter: @joeguzzardi19Click here to read previous columns. The opinions expressed are his own.

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