Study shows White House is wrong, there are no U.S. labor shortages

A new study finds that there is no need to import additional low-skilled foreign laborers.  The report plays in opposition to Republicans who aim to bring in new labor, including President Trump, who just allowed the issuance of thousands of H-2B visas for foreign workers on Monday.

Foreign guest-workers are typically brought to the U.S. to claim 66,000 seasonal jobs on the H-2B program. Department of Homeland Security (DHS) Secretary John Kelly added another 15,000 workers to the cap, pressured by big business lobbyists and establishment Republicans, like Sen. Thom Tillis (R-NC).

study by the Economic Policy Institute (EPI) found that there were 136,000 H-2B foreign workers in the U.S. in Fiscal Year 2016, and therefore, the report claims an increase is unnecessary.

Overall wage growth in all U.S. occupations, between 2004 and 2016, only increased by $1.23 on average, according to the study. Meanwhile, wages for H-2B occupations grew less than one-half of 1 percent annually between the same period.

Two H-2B occupations, cooks and production workers, saw a decrease in wages.

Dennis Michael Lynch makes this argument: ” I see stuff like this — the issuance of more H-2B visas — and it tells me the president is becoming a politician, and therefore he is breaking promises he made during the campaign.  Ridding of MS-13 members is great, cracking down on Sanctuary cities is great, but to defend U.S. workers the president has to kill the jobs magnet — to pump up American wages he has to stop with all the visas — fact is the foreigners are taking the jobs Americans will do.  There are plenty of college kids eager to work as cooks and maintenance workers.  The problem is places like Mar-a-Largo want to pay low wages to boost profits.  So, no matter how you size it up, or how the White House wants to spin it, they are tossing the American worker under the bus.” 

According to the study, blue collar workers from the U.S. who could have filled the top ten H-2B occupations were unemployed at a rate greater than the national average between 2004 and 2016.  Meanwhile, unemployment rates in the top ten H-2B occupations in 2015–2016 were above the national unemployment rate.

The study finds there is no evidence at all of labor shortages in the U.S. labor market that are significant enough to move national data trends. It says the unemployment rate in the U.S. is now at “pre-Great Recession levels,” however there is still “some way to go before genuine full employment is attained.”

Bringing in foreign workers isn’t helping to reach the goal. According to the study:

“The share of adults between the ages of 25 and 54 (‘prime-age’ adults who traditionally have very strong labor force attachments), for example, has just recently clawed back half of the peak-to-trough decline it suffered during the Great Recession.

With no evidence of the “labor shortage” declared by big business lobbyists, there is no need for additional low-skilled foreign workers, experts say.

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