By Joe Guzzardi
April 23, 2014
Economists agree that the U.S. labor market is undergoing the painful transition from full-time to part-time employment.
Temporary or part-time employment is traditionally viewed as a stopgap for employees hoping to rejoin the full-time workforce or for workers only available for a limited number of weekly hours.
Increasingly, however, job postings are mostly for temporary positions. Since 2010, temporary workers have increased 28 percent. A Career Builder and Harris Poll study found that 42 percent of employers plan to hire temporary or contract workers in 2014, up from 40 last year. Corporations determined to reduce overhead increasingly rely on temporary workers. For example Wal-Mart, the world’s biggest employer with a 2.2 million-strong workforce, uses temporary employees as part of its core business model.
Even if the most hopeful Wall Street projections pan out—that during 2014 a monthly total of 200,000 jobs will be created—it would take until 2020 to return to the 1990s robust labor market. For some sectors including the long-term unemployed, African-Americans, and young adults with only a high school education, finding any job remains an imposing challenge, and finding a good job, e.g., full-time, is even harder.
Not a week passes without a new and dire revelation about the nation’s weakening economy. This week is the same. According to New York Times’ research, the American middle class is no longer the world’s most prosperous. Because U.S. wages have stagnated for more than four decades, Canadian middle-class incomes exceed Americans’. European poor earn more than their American counterparts.
These are today’s harsh economic realities, the conditions on the ground so to speak. The most generous possible description of the American labor market is that it’s fragile. Nevertheless, immediately after returning from spring recess, Congress resumed its push to give work status to 12 million illegal immigrants currently unemployable because of their immigration status and also to nearly triple within the first decade the numbers of employment visas issued to overseas workers.
Illinois U.S. House Republicans Aaron Schock and Adam Kinzinger gave evidence of their determination when they spoke at the Illinois Business Immigration Coalition, also attended by former Speaker Dennis Hastert. Disingenuously Schock said, “Quite frankly, I think if a man or a woman likes their American job, wherever they were born, they should be able to keep that job.” He added that the U.S. needs an “on ramp” to bring in immigrants who want to work in America.” Kinzinger echoed Schock. His priority, he said, is to bring illegal immigrants “out of the shadows.”
The Schock- Kinzinger r rhetoric defies logic. Consider these three facts. One, not only are 20 million Americans unemployed or underemployed, the Economic Policy Institute reported that the unemployment rate is between 1.3 and 1.7 times as high now as it was six-plus years ago for all age, education, occupation, industry, gender, and racial and ethnic groups. Second, more than six million aliens work in the non-farm labor sector doing jobs Americans would do if offered the chance. Third, if the monthly Bureau of Labor Statistics’ jobs report included instead of omitted discouraged workers in its calculations, the national unemployment rate would be 9.6 percent, nearly three points higher than the official 6.7 percent.
But in U.S. politics, money talks. Fats cats and cheap labor addicts like the Illinois Business Immigration Coalition have deep pockets. As Americans are sadly finding out in their effort to promote a sensible, sustainable immigration policy, the rich—Bill Gates, Mark Zuckerberg, Michael Bloomberg and Mexican mogul Carlos Slim—control the media, dominate the discussion and own the politicians.
For those reasons, getting immigration legislation passed that helps struggling Americans by securing the border, enforcing the interior and mandating E-Verify is a constant uphill climb.
Joe Guzzardi is a Californians for Population Stabilization Senior Writing Fellow whose columns have been syndicated since 1987. Contact him at [email protected]