Immigration and the “Disappearance of Work”

Published on August 12th, 2013

By Joe Guzzardi
August 12, 2013

The Washington Post and Boston Globe sold recently to, respectively, Amazon’s Jeff Bezos and Red Sox owner John Henry. The Globe’s owner, the New York Times, took a financial beating. The sale price was $70 million cash versus the $1.1 billion acquisition cost 20 years ago. Analysts speculate that despite the Sulzberger family’s adamant denials, the Times could be the next to bail out from the hemorrhaging newspaper business, possibly to multibillionaire Mayor Michael Bloomberg. To stay afloat, the Times has been shedding assets including the Globe since 2007.

Management at the Post and the Times offer predictable reasons why they sold. The struggling economy and the digital age are the two most frequently cited. The main cause however is rarely mentioned: content. At best, stories are incomplete; at worst, they’re agenda-driven. Readers have concluded that newspapers aren’t worth buying. Consequently, advertising revenue is down 55 percent since 2005. If a newspaper isn’t worth buying or advertising in, then it’s doomed.

The Times presents an interesting case. Carlos Slim, Mexican mogul who some say is the world’s richest man, has slightly more than a 7 percent ownership in the Times with warrants that if  exercised them would increase his stake to 16 percent. Slim’s influence may be the most important reason the Times’ immigration bias is so pronounced.

Immigration, and specifically the ongoing effort to get legal status for illegal immigrants, is one of the biggest, most hotly debated social issues of the last ten years. But even though there’s ample and irrefutable evidence that high immigration levels lead to more immigration, higher native unemployment and less assimilation, the Times and its like-minded media colleagues publish only what it perceives as the positives. The enforcement argument is ignored or buried deep in the story. Direct quotes from immigration advocates outnumber compliance proponents 5 to 1, on average.

Currently under consideration are immigration bills that in exchange for promised tighter border controls, will grant approximately 11 million undocumented immigrants with instant legal status and an eventual path to citizenship. The biggest players in the immigration debate, lobbyists who want cheap labor, will get more legal immigrants, more family reunification, and more guest workers.

But here’s the rub—the rest of the nation will get the same thing. That’s horrible for the 22 million Americans who, according to the Labor Department’s U-6 category, are unemployed, underemployed or too discouraged to even look for work.

Analysts have studied the U.S. labor force and concluded that it’s saturated with workers. Sociologist William Julius Wilson says this has led to what he calls “the disappearance of work,” visible first in inner-cities like Chicago and Detroit but today spreading throughout the country. Declining youth employment, overall declining participation in the workforce, more off-the-books employment, stagnant or falling wages for most Americans all have multiple causes. The biggest, however, is American employers prefer foreign-born workers.

Statistics prove my point. According to the Census Bureau’s Current Population Survey, from the first quarter of 2000 to the first quarter of 2013, the number of natives working fell by 1.3 million while the overall size of the working age (16-65) population increased by 16.4 million. During the same period, the number of legal and illegal immigrants working increased by 5.3 million.

Passing a bill that adds workers to the labor pool is bad for everyone including those lucky enough to have a job, those struggling to find one, and infrequently mentioned in the debate, illegal immigrants who paid coyotes to come to America “to find a better life” but can’t even land even a minimum wage job.

Never underestimate how callous Congress can be. While blacks, Hispanics, returning veterans, the disabled and recent college graduates don’t know when or where they’ll finally find work, Congress might return from its August recess and shamelessly lie to Americans that more immigration is just what the nation needs. What America really needs is an immigration time out.






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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