American Job Displacement Continues Unabated

Published on July 15th, 2013

By Joe Guzzardi
July 15, 2013

The big story behind the Border Security, Economic Opportunity and Immigration Modernization Act, S. 744, is that its most hurtful details are hidden behind the cloak of media bias. S. 744’s specifics are so shocking that the Senate’s passage of it should generate national headlines that scream for the “yea” vote Senators’ impeachment.

The Bureau of Labor Statistics puts the United States civilian workforce at 144 million. But S. 744 would grant legal work authorization to the 11 million aliens already living in the U.S. plus an additional 33 million more who would arrive over the next decade on various visas, most of which would eventually lead to citizenship. The Congressional Budget Office predicts that if S. 744 became law, unemployment would rise, wages would drop, gross domestic product per capita would decline and illegal immigration would continue.

According to a new Center for Immigration (CIS) analysis based on the Current Population Survey, immigrants account for the total net gain in the number of working-age (16-65) people in the labor force. As defined by CIS, immigrants are those not U.S. citizens at birth and includes naturalized citizens, lawful permanent residents, temporary workers, foreign-born students and illegal immigrants. What makes the CIS study more astonishing is that within the working-age population and during the period studied, native workers under age 65 accounted for two-thirds of the overall growth but none of the net employment gain.

Specifically, comparing the number of immigrants working (ages 16 to 65) in the first quarter of 2000 to the number working in the first quarter of 2013 shows a 5.3 million increase. By contrast, the number of working-age natives holding a job was 1.3 million fewer in the first quarter 2013 than in 2000, even though the number of working-age natives overall increased by 16.8 million in the same period.

The decline in the working natives’ employment rate began before the 2007 recession. Of working-age natives, 74 percent had a job in 2000; by 2007, at the peak of the last expansion, just 71 percent had a job; in the first quarter of 2013, only 66 percent had a job. What’s particularly startling is the wide swath of workers who have been displaced. The share of natives working declined for teenagers and those in their 20s, 30s, 40s, and 50s from 2000 to 2007 and from 2007 to 2013. The drop has been most pronounced for young workers under age 30. 

All educational categories have experienced decline. The employment rate for native high school dropouts, high school graduates, those with some college, and those with at least a bachelor's degree dropped off consistently from 2000 to 2013.

The number of adult natives with no more than high school education not working is 4.9 million larger in 2013 than in 2000; the number with some college not working increased 6.8 million, and the number unemployed with at least a bachelor's degree grew by 3.8 million.

S. 744, if passed, would devastate American minorities, especially black and Hispanic males with little education and few skills. The bill introduces the W visa for low skilled that would compete for hospitality, custodial and clerical jobs that represent entry level employment for many Americans.

Instead of more immigration, the United States needs a time out. Between 2008-2012, about 5.4 million new legal and illegal immigrants from all ages arrived in the United States. During the five years before 2007, about 6.6 million new immigrants arrived. Not even the worst economic crisis in 75 years slowed immigration.

The U.S. has an abundance of available workers. Job creation is not keeping up with population growth yet immigration policy continues on autopilot. S.744 is a scandal that hasn’t yet generated the appropriate outrage but would if journalists reported on it professionally.


Joe Guzzardi is a Californians for Population Stabilization Senior Writing Fellow whose columns have been syndicated since 1986. Contact him at [email protected]

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