by Joe Guzzardi
June 6, 2011
The May Bureau of Labor Statistics employment report is so awful that of the miniscule 54,000 new jobs created, half of them were at McDonald’s. According to investment banking giant Morgan Stanley, new hires from the April McDonald’s job fair would eventually boost payrolls by only about 25,000 workers. McDonald’s hired only 6 percent of its one million applicants. Based on the ratio of applicants to those accepted, it’s easier to get into Harvard University than to sign on at McDonald’s.
In Atlanta, an owner of three McDonald’s franchises noted that 1 in ten of his prospective employees has a college education, up from 1 in forty a year ago. Most arrive for their interviews dressed professionally. A young woman with a medical administrative assistant’s degree was relieved when McDonald’s offered her a job as an overnight maintenance worker. Desperate Americans wait in long lines to work at McDonald’s despite an average hourly wage in the fast food industry of $8.93, a salary that barely supports a modest lifestyle.
Other grim BLS statistics that reaffirm America’s downward economic trend include 14 million unemployed, 12 million underemployed and the unavoidable reality that the United States needs to create 150,000 new jobs monthly to keep pace with population growth. Since the nation adds only a small fraction of that total every month, the U.S. continuously falls further behind.
Here’s an historical perspective.
In 2001, when George W. Bush took office, there were 205 million Americans between ages 18-65. By the end of Bush’s administration in 2008, the population had grown by 20 million to 235 million potential job seekers.
The Bush administration created only 2 million jobs. Since President Barack Obama took office, more people have lost jobs while the population continues to grow. Today the United States is approximately ten years behind in the numbers of jobs needed to restore full employment.
Enter immigration, for Obama the unspeakable variable.
During the last decade, more than a million legal immigrants and at least 500,000 more illegal immigrants have come to the United States annually. Those here legally hold work permits and compete head to head with native-born Americans for jobs; illegal aliens often procure false identification or work under the table. In either case, they get jobs Americans should hold. June’s BSL data indicates that the foreign-born work force is nearly 16 percent, an outrage in view of the 9.1 percent unemployment rate.
Obama’s advisors should immediately outline a three-point plan: 1) immediately suspend all legal immigration, 2) secure the border and 3) vigorously pursue internal immigration law enforcement.
This would anger Obama’s supporters. On the other hand, the 26 million unemployed and underemployed voters would certainly identify bold immigration restrictions as in their best interests.
In the meantime, Obama should consider that the unemployment rate when he took office was 7.8 percent; it’s averaged more than 10 percent during his first term. That provides plenty of fodder for Obama’s eventual Republican challenger. No president since Franklin Delano Roosevelt has won reelection when unemployment was higher than 7.2 percent.
In 2012, Obama may have trouble capturing unemployed voters. Decisive action to curb immigration in the name of increasing employment could move undecided voters back into his camp.
Joe Guzzardi has written editorial columns—mostly about immigration and related social issues – since 1986. He is a senior writing fellow for Californians for Population Stabilization (CAPS) and his columns are frequently syndicated in various U.S. newspapers and websites. Contact him at [email protected]