By Joe Guzzardi
November 5, 2012
Whether the Bureau of Labor Statistics’ October jobs report is good or bad news depends on whose eyes you see it through. If you’re President Obama, you told undecided voters that “we learned companies hired more workers in October than at any time in the last eight months.” In October, 171,000 jobs were added, an increase of about 125,000 from September.
Challenger Mitt Romney, however, has a different spin. Romney reminded voters that for four years, Obama’s economic policies have hammered the middle class, that October’s unemployment rate increased to 7.9 percent from 7.8 the preceding month and that 23 million Americans are either unemployed or underemployed. According to Romney, the economy is at a “virtual standstill.”
Considering that “for the last eight months” the jobs picture has been as grim as at any time in the nation’s history, October looking good by comparison is hardly applause worthy.
More to the point, whatever jobs may have been created are mostly part time (less than 35 hours weekly) in the low paying hospitality sector, have no retirement benefits and offer no insurance. More than 30 million struggling Americans fall into this dead end category.
Those lucky enough to have a “good” job are constantly looking over their shoulder, waiting for the axe to fall. In Indiana, for example, the Department of Workforce Development announced that companies across the state have notified it of plans to eliminate by the end of the year nearly 4,000 jobs through layoffs, one-third of them in manufacturing. Included among those issuing pink slips are major employers like Caterpillar and Cummins.
As relentlessly depressing as the jobs statistics are, a new Center for Immigrations Studies report told a more shocking story. According to CIS lead researcher Dr. Steven A Camarota, immigrants are working more while Americans work less. This trend has been evolving for years, has accelerated under the current administration and is the inevitable but painful (to unemployed Americans) consequence of admitting about one million legal immigrants annually. In addition, the dire effects of ignoring illegal immigration coupled with little meaningful interior enforcement and Congress’ refusal to pass mandatory E-Verify legislation also play parts in American workers’ demise.
Boiled down, CIS found that during the last four years two-thirds of new jobs have gone to foreign-born.
CIS’ supporting data is stark. Since the first quarter of 2009, the number of employed working age immigrants (16 to 65) has increased by 2 million, from 21.2 million to 23.2 million. During the same period, native-born employment has risen just 1 million to reach 119.9 million. Dating back to 2000, 76 percent of natives aged 18 to 65 were employed but that total declined steadily to 69 percent in September 2012. By contrast, immigrants started the last decade at 71 percent employment and rose to a peak of 74 percent at the height of the George W. Bush-era economic boom.
CIS also found that the majority of immigrant employment growth goes to the most recently arrived, a statistic that should argue for an immigration moratorium until the economy rights itself. But to Romney and Obama, the idea of limiting immigration has not crossed their mind. Despite months of harping about job growth, neither Obama nor Romney is willing to admit the hurtful link between high immigration and American job loss.
Don’t expect changes. If elected, Obama promises to push for an amnesty. Romney has suggested without providing details that he would: “reform America’s broken immigration system,” amnesty code words. Both have lobbied for more unnecessary non-immigrant work visas that would further depress the American job market. Under either Romney or Obama, stricter immigration policies are improbable.
Instead, and disastrously, immigration will continue on auto-pilot no matter how many millions of Americans suffer. Four more years of the same means four million more legal work authorized immigrants competing in the job market.
Joe Guzzardi is a Californians for Population Stabilization Senior Writing Fellow whose columns have been syndicated since 1986. Contact him at [email protected]