By Joe Guzzardi
September 18, 2012
Unemployment is at record highs across all age groups, ethnicities and professions. Nevertheless, this week Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney promised to give permanent residence green cards that include work authorization to foreign-born students who graduate with advanced degrees from American universities. This pledge, if fulfilled, would kill the scant hopes that native-born graduates have to find a job. The Economic Policy Institute recently reported that the college graduates’ underemployment rate is 19.1 percent.
Speaking to the Hispanic Chamber of Commerce, Romney rambled on with his anti-American worker plan. If elected, Romney promised to relax the H-1B non-immigrant visa to satisfy employers’ needs. Note that Romney’s target audience is employers and not unemployed Americans who would benefit from less job competition.
Meanwhile, on Capitol Hill, Congress continued on its unbroken path to undermine U. S. workers. House Judiciary Committee chairman Lamar Smith will introduce legislation soon that proposes to eliminate the 55,000 annual diversity visas and reallocate them to a new visa category for immigrants who earn U.S. degrees in science, technology engineering and math. Senator Charles Schumer (D-NY) will offer a similar bill.
America’s true employment picture—much bleaker than the already grim Bureau of Labor Statistics monthly reports indicate—is available for anyone who wants to see it. At the top of the list of those who should analyze the facts on the ground are clueless and partisan politicians.
According to the 2010 American Community Survey conducted by the Census Bureau, there are more than 1.5 million U.S.-born individuals with engineering degrees who are either unemployed or working in non-engineering fields.
The national search firm Simply Hired advised job seekers to interview at any of the three top employers in terms of their available vacancies: the U.S. Air Force, Taco Bell and the National Guard. The National Employment Law Project chimed in with its latest and equally depressing statistics. Among jobs created last year, the average wage was less than $15 hourly. But in retail sales, cashiering and food preparation—the fast growing job sectors, the median salary is below $10. Since the Great Recession started, the American middle class has vanished at an alarming pace. With its disappearance, the nation’s economy which depends on vigorous consumer spending cannot improve. After all, workers are consumers and consumers are workers.
University of San Diego economist Alan Gin calls our new economy “bifurcated,” meaning that good paying jobs that were once held by people with little education and few skills have disappeared and are not coming back.
For all the empty political pledges made that jobs will be created—and those vows are the cornerstone of every Republican and Democratic House, Senate and White House campaign, they miss the point. The jobs have to be good ones. And they have to be given to the 20 million unemployed Americans, 500,000 of whom have been jobless so long they’ve given up their search. The consequences are important; poor workers make a poor nation.
Given the ample evidence of American suffering, a full court congressional press for more immigration even under the guise of importing skilled immigrants, is a travesty of justice.
Joe Guzzardi is a Californians for Population Stabilization Senior Writing Fellow whose columns have been syndicated since 1986. Contact him at [email protected]