By Joe Guzzardi
May 9, 2016
The April Bureau of Labor Statistics report is, to be polite, gravely disappointing. The traditional payroll survey showed that the economy created 160,000 jobs, well below Wall Street’s anticipated 205,000. But the alternate BLS household survey was the real shocker. In April, the household survey reflected 316,000 lost jobs.
The payroll survey estimates the nation’s employment based on responses from a sample of about 400,000 businesses. On the other hand, the household survey calculates the nation’s employment based on responses from interviews with approximately 60,000 households.
The trick with the payroll survey, and why it’s so out of sync with reality, is that a person with multiple jobs, increasingly common in today’s depressed labor market, will be tallied more than once. If, for example, an employee works a 9 to 5 job, and then reports to an evening shift job, he’s on two payrolls and is counted twice. About seven million Americans work second jobs.
The household survey tracks the number of employed individuals, but they only appear once. Included in the household survey are not only those who work traditional payroll jobs but also agricultural workers, the self-employed, domestic help, unpaid family workers, and workers on unpaid leaves. Therefore, a 316,000 plunge in those jobs is huge.
Digging deeper into BLS data, the number of Americans not in the labor force last month totaled more than 94 million, a 562,000 increase from March, and the labor force participation rate dropped to 62.8 percent, a near 38-year low. When President Obama took office in January 2009, the labor force participation rate was 65.7 percent.
The break-down of other April BLS statistical categories looks like this: 5.8 million people are currently unemployed but want a job, the number of long-term unemployed, those jobless for 27 weeks or more, stands at 2.1 million, involuntary part-time workers, those who would prefer full-time employment but cannot find it, number 6.0 million, and 1.7 million persons are classified as marginally attached to the labor force, meaning that they want a job, are available to work, and had looked for a job during the prior 12 months but had not searched in the last four week period.
Perhaps the most stunning fact found in this devastating check-list of economic demise is that in April more than 25 million foreign-born residents held jobs. BLS does not distinguish between legal and illegal immigrants. Since Obama’s inauguration, the U.S. foreign born-population has increased by 5.79 million, more than four million of whom work today.
The immigrant employment boom is the direct consequences of admitting more than one million legal, employment-authorized immigrants annually, and the federal government’s failure to enforce the border or the interior against illegal immigration. With no pending congressional legislation that might create more sustainable immigration levels, the logical year-to-year outcome is even more American worker displacement.
Nearly one hundred years ago, Samuel Gompers, the American Federation of Labor founder and an immigrant himself, explained what immigration to America should do. In a letter he wrote in 1921, Gompers said that labor doesn’t want to build a wall or to keep other nations’ poor out of America, but it does “insist” that there “must be some restriction of immigration that will prevent disintegration of American economic standards.”
The U. S. is at the point of no return: low employment and decades of stagnant wages argue that to help American workers, a more restrictive immigration policy is absolutely necessary.
Joe Guzzardi is a Californians for Population Stabilization Senior Writing Fellow. Contact him at [email protected]